Shockingly, ATA Opposes User Fees Imposed On
As it turns out, the
notion of 'congestion pricing' wasn't as dead as it may have
appeared. Despite leaving the provision off last month's compromise
deal with airlines to combat flight delays at jam-packed New
York-area airports, on Monday the Department of Transportation
announced airports nationwide will soon be allowed to charge
landing fees during their busiest times.
DOT Secretary Mary E. Peters said the new policy, once
implemented, will allow airports to curb delays through imposing
fees on airlines landing at airports at peak times -- a practice
that, in theory anyway, should result in flights being spread out
throughout the day.
"Airports will now be able to more efficiently and effectively
finance the kind of projects that will give travelers more options,
airlines more opportunities, and cities like New York more
visitors," Peters said.
The policy would give airports added leeway in their ability to
set fees, by granting the flexibility to vary charges based on the
time of day and the volume of traffic; currently, airports may only
charge based on aircraft weight.
One thing is clear: the Air Transport Association doesn't
see the logic of such a plan, deriding the idea of new landing
fees "congestion pricing disguised as an airport fee."
"Unfortunately, (the policy) does nothing to fix the primary
cause of delays -- our nation's increasingly antiquated air traffic
control system," ATA President and CEO James May told The
Associated Press. "Additional fees ... will only increase the cost
of flying for the consumer."
Some analysts agree
with that assessment, noting while landing fees should encourage
competition between airports -- as airlines reroute flights to
less-congested fields, or airports that opt not to charge fees --
passengers will ultimately wind up paying in the form of higher
"The best part about this is that it opens up competition among
airports," airline analyst Terry Trippler said. "That's what we
want and that's what we need."
Airport operators, on the other hand, applauded the move.
Airports Council International-North America President Greg
Principato noted "airport proprietors are in the best position to
manage the use of the facilities they planned, financed, built and
The proposal is open for comment from the industry for 45