If the Next Administration is Serious About Infrastructure, It Will Privatize Airports – 2017

Talk about a trillion dollars in infrastructure spending from the next administration isn’t the answer, in particular, to many of America’s transportation problems. Privatizing airports, as Robert W. Poole Jr. and Chris Edwards propose, would be more useful than vast sums on make-work projects of dubious value to anyone except big campaign contributors and connected corporations:

America does need to harness market forces and promote state flexibility in infrastructure. We should reduce federal intervention and move toward greater reliance on the private sector to fund, own, and operate the nation’s infrastructure.

That is certainly true for aviation infrastructure, which will face major challenges as passenger demand outstrips the capacity of available facilities. Along with rising demand, the average size of planes has fallen, which has increased the number of planes using airports and the air traffic control (ATC) system.

Around the world, countries facing similar problems have adopted market-based aviation reforms. While our infrastructure is government-owned and bureaucratic, many airports abroad have been privatized, and foreign ATC systems have been restructured as independent, self-supporting organizations. While U.S. airports and ATC receive taxpayer subsidies, the global trend is toward aviation infrastructure funded by user charges.

They’ve a useful white paper, Privatizing U.S. Airports, in which they make their (strong) case:

Download (PDF, 249KB)

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