The $1 Billion Big Build

Sacramento makes adjustments, forges ahead on new terminal complex

On deregulating the business of airports in the U.S. ...

“Another goal is to once and for all get started down the path of looking at how the government regulates airports economically. It’s looking at the regulations that were established during the Nixon era to economically regulate airports. We need to take another look and see if they still make sense.

“For example, the historical calculations for how you establish airfield rates and charges. Why not allow airports to establish landing fees based on hour of day? Allow airports to manage congestion with that economic tool.

“Looking at what projects are eligible for PFCs and maybe broadening it for wider application is another example. Or, I don’t know of any grant assurances that have ever been eliminated. Every time there’s another reauthorization, another grant assurance comes.

“We need to take a fresh look and see if it still makes sense for the federal government to be regulating airports economically. We clearly need safety and security oversight. But we think there’s room for improvement and taking a fresh look at how airports are economically constrained by Washington.”

On airport privatization ...

“North America now seems to be almost an island globally of having not gone to a more private-like model, I think Canada probably has a pretty good model, though they’re not happy about the rents assessed to them by Ottawa.

“We have a form of privatization, and that’s called the independent airport authority. Most of them have an independent board with political appointees; it’s a quasi-independent body whose sole purpose is to operate the airport.

“I think it is just a matter of time. You see the uptick in interest ... that has come about due to the current economic crisis that we’re in where local governments are struggling. When you’re sitting on a multi-billion asset like at Chicago, they could have realized a couple of billion dollars on their balance sheet that they’re not benefitting from.

“FAA limits how many airports can pursue it. Why should FAA care if airports are privatized or not?”

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