DOT Wants Higher Landing Fees At Busy Airports

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Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said on Monday that airports should be allowed to charge landing fees based on congestion, instead of weight, to encourage airlines to shift schedules to less-busy times or to less-busy airports. The proposal brought immediate reaction, most of it negative. The agency that operates New York's main airports said Peters' plan is too conservative: "These small steps don't address the fundamental problem when dramatic action is needed," the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey told The New York Times. The airlines don't like it. The DOT proposal "is nothing more than congestion pricing disguised as an airport fee," said Air Transport Association President James May. He added that the proposal "does nothing to fix the primary cause of delays -- our nation's increasingly antiquated air traffic control system." One go-team response came from Airports Council International - North America. "We're pleased that Secretary Peters has recognized that airport proprietors are in the best position to manage the use of the facilities they planned, financed, built and currently operate," said ACI-NA President Greg Principato.

The DOT's proposed policy would also enable airports to include the cost of existing construction projects in their rates and charges, according to the ACI-NA. The industry has 45 days to comment on the proposal before it is made final.