The increase in airport privatization worldwide has led to calls for airports in the United States to follow suit; however, the arguments for this change do not fare well against the history of US airport development, federal regulations and privatization experiments. This paper will take a brief look at the airport industry and the concept of privatization to establish a position on whether or not to privatize.
Calls to Privatization - a background
During the early 1990s, The Reason Foundation, through the voice of Robert Poole, championed the call for privatization of many government utility functions including airports. Poole travelled the United States speaking at various events, writing extensively and appearing before Congress regarding airport privatization (Reason Foundation, n.d.). His point of view continues to this day to be the arguments of choice for those advocating a shift in the ownership and operation of airports.
In Atlanta, there have been calls for the privatization of the Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport (Lowell, 1994). For the last three years, Hartsfield Jackson has retained the title of being the busiest airport in the world. The movement of close to 90 million passengers annually has placed it above other major transportation hubs such as Chicago O’Hare and the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airports.
With the city of Atlanta facing infrastructure development issues, particularly the aging sewer and storm-water systems, political and civic groups like the Georgia Public Policy Foundation have been calling for the privatization of Hartsfield Jackson. The sale of this city asset is seen as a solution to the massive shortfall of funding that is required to undertake the needed improvements (Dodd, 2003). This would eliminate the need to increase or impose new taxes on the residents while more than adequately filling the city’s coffers.
Types of privatization
Traditionally there have been four privatization...