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February 20, 2008

Are new fees coming to airports?

The federal government has proposed giving airports the ability to impose a new fee designed to reduce congestion and flight delays. What is this fee, and how would it affect fliers? Listen

Dr. Mike Walden, North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, responds:

"Well, the issue is that there are a lot of popular times for arriving and departing an airport, and what you have is many airlines wanting to schedule their flights at those times. So, for example, if many airlines want to arrive at 11 o'clock in the morning, you're going to have a lot of congestion. You're going to have backups in landings; you're going to have backups at gates and so on and so forth. Now, the airlines themselves don't have any costs related to that. So what the airports want to do is to try to motivate the airlines to take those busy times into account in their scheduling. And what the federal government has proposed doing is allowing airports to charge these airlines a special fee called a congestion fee related to landing and taking off at popular times. Of course, ultimately, the flyer is going to pay that cost, but it would allow airlines to perhaps be motivated to schedule around those busy times. And the way the flyer could benefit, of course, would be that they'd spend less time circling the airport, maybe waiting at the gates, waiting to get their bags and so forth. Or, if they really want to land at that particular time, they'd be willing to pay the higher fee. The problem, of course, is you just have so much airport space, and as flying has become more popular, that has increased congestion at those particular times."

Posted by Dave at February 20, 2008 08:19 AM