Reason's Bob Poole on How to Fix America's Airports

Why don't airports and airlines inovate? Bob Poole has been working on finding out why for about 20 years. He gave a presentation at Reason Weekend explaining not only why but how we can fix America's airports.

At Reason Weekend, the annual donor event held by Reason Foundation (the nonprofit that publishes this website), Poole gives a short history of air transportation in the United States. Airports are mismanaged and over regulated causing the wrong incentives in the industry, Poole shows how we can transform airports to be more market driven and adaptable in the 21st century.

Approximately 38 minutes. Filmed by Joshua Swain and Anthony Fisher. Edited by Sharif Matar.

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  • Zuul mothafucka Zuul||

    Haven't seen the video, knowing Bob Poole it probably offers some crony-capitalist solution.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    I am going to watch the whole thing right now. I have the same prediction as well.

  • Raistlin||

    "Haven't seen the video,"

    'Nuff said.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Well, motherfuckin dejavu. About 23 in, he is proposing "corporatization" of government airport ownership and all kinds of public-private and regulatory complexity as a way for governments to avoid just fucking privatizing the god damn airports, so that governments can still mess around with the market.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    He talks about how many early airstrips were financed by municipalities, and they locked airlines in to contracts to serve those places and regulated the shit out of service levels and fares. The airlines got all kinds of power and protection. And this is just with local governments.

    Pretty much the exact same bullshit that cities did with traction companies only decades before the aviation deals, that ended up with city governments bailing out bankrupt streetcars during roughly the same period that they were making deals with airlines. Go fucking figure.

  • Truculent Resistor||

    Why don't airports and airlines inovate [sic]?

    I think they have. In real terms flying is significantly less expensive than it was 20 years ago.

    The only metric I am interested in is cost. I just booked a flight for August from BWI to Seattle return for $416. There is no way that the same flight would have cost me that little twenty years ago. If I want a good meal, I'll go to a restaurant and not book a flight.

    I apologize for the pedantic "[sic]" . However, the correct spelling for "innovate" is "Southwest".

  • Truculent Resistor||

    Why don't airports and airlines inovate [sic]?

    I think they have. In real terms flying is significantly less expensive than it was 20 years ago.

    The only metric I am interested in is cost. I just booked a flight for August from BWI to Seattle return for $416. There is no way that the same flight would have cost me that little twenty years ago. If I want a good meal, I'll go to a restaurant and not book a flight.

    I apologize for the pedantic "[sic]" . However, the correct spelling for "innovate" is "Southwest".

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    How cheesy. Southwest's pure luck with fuel contracts in the previous decade finally caught up with them. They are getting the same deals as all the other airlines now. Airlines were forced to "innovate" because of deregulation- and they are still resisting real competition, such as with the airport regulations, and domestic flight protectionism.

  • Truculent Resistor||

    What do you mean cheesy? Is that a good thing? Being able to buy a flight with just one leg at a time or not having to stay over a weekend to get a good round trip flight price is innovation to me.

    In 1967 my family visited Europe to visit family. The RT tickets were something like $600 JFK-London Heathrow. According to this inflation calculator http://www.usinflationcalculator.comthose same tickets would cost $4100 today. Seem to me there has been some innovation along the way to be able to bend the cost curve like that.

  • Truculent Resistor||

    Airlines were forced to "innovate" because of deregulation

    You write that like it was a bad thing?

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    "correct spelling for "innovate" is "Southwest""

    Cheesy. Southwest is a pretty ordinary ass service.

    "You write that like it was a bad thing?"

    In the scheme of things, the airlines didn't really do shit besides what they should have been doing anyway. They are still a colossal clusterfuck. The continuing dominance of the system of major hubs, built on regulation and subsidy, is evidence of resistance to innovation.

    Costs went down as the service developed because of volume and automation. Nothing spectacular or unique to the industry. Did they have jumbo jets before the 60s?

  • WarrenT||

    Alt text: Bitch! I'm fabulous!

  • strat||

    As someone who flies airplanes, albeit not as a profession, some of Mr. Poole's comments are right on the mark. I've had to deal with the municipal airport managers who clearly advanced through some process other than meritocracy as well as some who seemed to do a good job. It doesn't help that some locales appoint people to the "airport board" who wouldn't know a taxiway from a taxicab.

    Where I begin to part ways is with his vociferous insistence on aviation user fees without first addressing the double taxation of high fuel taxes. The aircraft fuel taxes have been set at rates that are supposed to cover planned expenditures. To add user fees on top of that would be brutal for much of general aviation. Some states allow individuals to file for refunds of aircraft fuel taxes, but by no means is it all of them.

    He could also do a little more to decry the ridiculous stunts some states pull when they try to levy use taxes on aircraft that are only temporarily visiting their precious land.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Direct charges for use of facilities is better than fuel taxes for funding airports. State level taxation of aviation fuel other than normal sales tax is stupid, since states have no business managing aviation. Aircraft registration or general tax funding (as a public good) should cover FAA operations.

  • joy||

    Airports are mismanaged and over regulated causing the wrong incentives in the industry, Poole shows http://www.nikewinkel.com/scho.....-c-83.html how we can transform airports to be more market driven and adaptable in the 21st century.

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