Impose ‘congestion pricing’ to decongest airports, says expert

April 23rd, 2009 - 5:10 pm ICT by IANS  

London, April 23 (IANS) ‘Congestion pricing’ could be one way to decongest airport runways and overcome the problem of rampant flight delays.
In London, motorists pay a fee to drive into certain locations during peak traffic hours, and the idea has been considered for implementation in New York as well.

Now Itai Ater, an economist from Tel Aviv University (TAU) faculty of management, is suggesting that ‘congestion pricing’ at airports could save travellers time and airlines money.

“What I propose is a policy to reduce the amount of delays in the airline industry,” said Ater. Airlines that want to use an airport’s runway during the busiest times of the day, he says, should pay an additional fee.

This price for premium access to the runway could reduce airport congestion - and the inevitable delays, as well as the risks, associated with crowded skies.

“Airport congestion is a big problem in the US and around the world,” said Ater, who evaluated flight records from America’s busiest airports for his doctoral thesis at Stanford University.

“The estimated annual costs of delays are $10 billion. When there are delays on take off or landing, a cascading effect is created, with lots of associated problems, risks and financial costs,” he said.

One direct effect is that airlines spend more money on fuel, and there are indirect costs as well, mainly passengers’ time. To counter delays, many airlines “pad” their schedules, adding a considerable amount of time onto the flight plan, informed Ater.

This padding increases the costs of staff and the busy business flyer’s time - something often more valuable than money, said a TAU release.

Ater will be making a presentation at the National Bureau of Economic Research conference in Boston this May.

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