Hiking The Airport Tax Versus Privatization
March 7, 2000
An aviation bill nearing completion in Congress would increase the passenger airport tax from $3 to $4.50 per person. That means that a passenger making a round trip with a connecting flight would be charged an extra $18 for his ticket.
The Airport Trust Fund already gets roughly $10 billion a year in airport user fees.
Free-market advocates suggest that, rather than imposing a higher tax, airports should be privatized. London's airports at Heathrow and Gatwick have been privatized and should serve as a model for the U.S. Moreover, the trend is spreading worldwide.
Heritage Foundation analyst Ronald Utt has taken a look at what privatization would mean for Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport.
- The airport may be worth as much as $5.5 billion
- Selling it would net each Atlanta resident as much as $13,5000 in tax relief -- not to mention the taxes a private airport would pay.
- Or funds realized through the sale could be applied to education -- $90,000 more for each student.
Under today's setup, new airlines often can't find gates at government-run airports because the authorities tend to sign long-term leases with big airlines in order to ensure a long-term revenue stream.
But for-profit airport management could allocate gates on an hourly basis. Then gates which otherwise go idle when a carrier has no flights scheduled could be utilized by competitors.
Source: Editorial, "Dunning Through Airports," Investor's Business Daily, March 7, 2000.
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