Policy

Airport Auctions and Nerd Puns

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whoops

Take a minute and savor the consummate nerdiness of this headline about the death of a plan to auction landing slots at New York airports:

Airports: Coase, but no cigar

A thing of beauty is a joy forever.

OK, on to the bad news. Late in his tenure, President George W. Bush proposed auctioning off landing slots at Kennedy, LaGuardia, and Newark—some of the most famously congested airports in the country. This week, Obama killed the plan. The New York Times reported that the Transportation Department justified the change thusly: "In proposing to rescind the auctions, the department noted that the rule making was highly controversial and that most of those filing comments opposed the slot auctions,"…"The Department also noted that circumstances have changed since the rules were issued, including changes in the economy."

As explained yesterday by economist Sandy Ikeda on New York University's market-oriented blog (under that beautiful headline, and channeling Ronald Coase) much of the fight centers around the lack of clarity about property rights at New York airports in the first place.

Among those opposed were the airlines themselves. The Bush administration argued the slots are the property of the FAA while the airlines claimed the slots belong to them, as reported in this NYT article from a year ago, which also noted that at London's Heathrow the airlines were initially given the slots, some of which were then sold to American companies.

Via Issac Morehouse.

Looks like privatization efforts at Midway airport are FUBAR as well.

For more on airport privatization, go here.