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Reason Foundation

Pricing in the sky

Ted Balaker
April 4, 2004, 1:28pm

Many policy problems (from road congestion to water and electricity shortages) can be greatly improved through the proper application of a simple concept–pricing. In this USA Today article, Reason's Bob Poole explains how to apply pricing to air traffic control: By charging planes to use the most congested airports and airways, the system would give its customers economic incentives to reschedule flight times or choose less-congested airports without such charges. That easing of demand would provide breathing room to address the looming shortfalls in air-traffic-control capacity. All sorts of new technology can increase this capacity, both cross-country and on the approaches to airport runways. "Synthetic vision" systems can permit pilots to land at socked-in airports at nearly the same rate as in clear weather. So the air-traffic system need not break down just because Chicago has a bad-weather day. Other advanced technologies can reduce the size of the protective bubble needed around planes en route to keep them safely separated.

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