Congestion pricing is center stage as industry meets to hear FAA forecasts
By John F. Infanger, Editorial Director
WASHINGTON — The mood at this year’s Forecast Conference, hosted annually by FAA, was mixed, conflicted by a generally optimistic outlook for aviation amid an uncertain economy. It served as the official coming out to the industry of new DOT Secretary Norm Mineta, while offering up official projections. On Day 2, a breakout session featured a lively debate on airport economics and peak period pricing.
Held in March, the conference focused on
continued optimistic outlooks for the airline industry and business and
general aviation. The greatest challenge facing the industry continues
to be congestion at the nation’s largest airports, which stirs a
dual debate over modernization of the air traffic control system and the
merits of peak period pricing at the most congested airports.
As DOT Secretary, Mineta brings to the office a distinguished resume that includes former mayor of San Jose, CA, and long-time Congressman who had a significant voice in aviation matters as a committee member in the U.S. House. He subsequently served as the chair of the National Civil Aviation Review Commission, a working group which cautioned that the ATC system was approaching gridlock and that new mechanisms are needed for long-term solutions. Those recommendations, relegated to collect dust on a regulatory shelf in Washington, may be reopened by Mineta.
As evidence, the Secretary again expressed his support for separating the operation and safety of ATC into two separate divisions under DOT. He also reaffirmed his commitment to streamlining the approval process for new runways and other significant airport construction via expedited environmental reviews.
Capacity and Airport Pricing
Also at the conference, Mineta again expressed an openness toward implementation of pricing mechanisms that could help alleviate congestion at peak hours at some major U.S. airports. The topic surfaced as the primary discussion topic for a breakout panel on Day 2 of the conference.
Fiscal Years 2001-2012
(millions)Domestic 496.3 576.1 604.1 620.7 639.0 927.4 4.0 4.9 2.7 2.9 3.6 RPMS
(Billions)Domestic 392.6 473.1 502.8 519.4 537.5 822.9 5.1 6.3 3.3 3.5 4.2 Cargo TRMs
(Billions)Domestic 12.4 14.0 14.7 15.0 15.7 25.8 3.4 4.9 2.0 5.1 4.8
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