Airport Policy News

Airport Policy and Security News #105

Airport funding if ATC is corporatized; Fixing the flaws in PreCheck

In this issue:

Funding Airport Investment in a Transformed FAA

The endless battle between U.S. airports and U.S. airlines over how to pay for airport capital improvements is under way again, because Congress has begun work on the bill to reauthorize the FAA, whose current authorization expires Sept. 30th. However, the two interest groups seem to be arguing with each other as if these were normal times in federal aviation policy. Memo to Airlines for America (A4A) and airport groups AAAE/ACI-NA: normal times these are not.

The sequester in 2013 delivered an earthquake-like shock to aviation stakeholders. Controllers found themselves experiencing furloughs, AAAE saw its contract towers nearly shut down, and airlines experienced increased delays due to the ATC furloughs. Airports suffered again when Congress decided to force FAA to un-do the furloughs and rescue the contract towers by shifting funds out of the airport grants program (AIP) to beef up ATC operations. Meanwhile, FAA’s capital spending is a full $1 billion a year less than the agency had projected five years ago. And as a result of that, the NextGen Advisory Committee came up with a series of triage recommendations (which FAA accepted) to ensure that at least a few high-priority near-term NextGen projects can be funded.

Those events led the 2011-2013 FAA Management Advisory Council to recommend, unanimously in its final report of January 2014, that U.S. aviation policy needs a fundamental overhaul. The aviation excise taxes are poorly linked to the factors driving aviation’s growth, the system is far too politicized, and the ATC system needs to be surgically removed from the FAA bureaucracy and allowed to function like a real high-tech service business. Indeed, the MAC pointed to the global success of ATC corporatization, with these transformed air navigation service providers becoming self-supporting via direct fees and charges, insulated from their governments’ budget problems, and able to finance capital modernization via revenue bonds, just like airports do.

Most aviation stakeholder groups accept most or all of this diagnosis and prescription, yet the battle over airport funding has gotten under way as if this larger context didn’t exist. A4A cites its taxpayer survey saying 82% oppose an increase in the cap on passenger facility charges (PFCs), while the U.S. Travel Association cites its survey of air travelers finding up to 79% favor a $4 per trip increase in order to make airports better. And back and forth the argument rages.

What makes this battle all the more frustrating is that A4A strongly supports taking the Air Traffic Organization out of FAA, giving it a federal charter as a nonprofit, user-funded and stakeholder governed company-and abolishing all existing federal aviation taxes as part of the deal. The revenue from those taxes-$12.85 billion in FY 2013-is more than enough to cover the full capital and operating cost of what some are calling NewATO, estimated by a recent study as $11.25 billion (prior to future cost savings). But that total tax take is not enough to pay for both ATO and the $3.3 billion airport grants program (AIP). So if the ATO is separated from FAA as a self-funded nonprofit, and all the excise taxes are abolished, FAA would still need a budget (using FY 2013 numbers again) of $5.4 billion-$2.1 billion for safety regulation and administration and $3.3 billion for AIP grants. Where is that money supposed to come from?

In recent years (between 2001 and 2013), the general fund has provided an average of 22.6% of FAA’s budget. Since 2013, because of a surplus in the Aviation Trust Fund, that percentage has dropped below 10%, but that’s a historical aberration. FAA safety regulation and administration, at $2.1 billion, is inherently governmental, and like all the other federal safety regulatory agencies, ought to be paid for by the general fund. That still leaves a $3.3 billion AIP program (or whatever size Congress decides is warranted). What are the options for funding that?

Assuming that ATC corporatization is part of the “transformational” reauthorization bill that House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee chair Bill Shuster (R, PA) has promised, and which A4A strongly supports, one option would be to retain (or recreate) some portion of the existing aviation excise taxes as an AIP tax that could be handled via a new AIP Trust Fund. Some have suggested a version of the existing segment fee, sized to generate $3.3 billion a year, as the single source of revenue for this new trust fund. If that seems like too large a hit for the airlines, there continues to be a willingness of large hub airports to consider giving up most or all of their AIP grant funding in exchange for an increase in the PFC cap.

This is a problem that the airports and airlines must come to grips with. Former American Airlines CEO Bob Crandall laid it on the line this week in a hard-hitting Viewpoint piece in Aviation Week. “We need to take the ATO out of the FAA and create a self-supporting corporate entity to perform the ATC function,” he wrote. But airports and airlines need to bite the bullet and work out a deal to ensure ongoing airport investment, he said, via some combination of an aviation excise tax and increased PFCs. As Crandall put it in the title of his piece, “Don’t blow our shot at FAA financing reform.” I heartily agree.

» return to top

Fixing PreCheck’s Flaws

There is good news and bad news about TSA’s popular PreCheck program that lets low-risk passengers use special screening lanes and expedited security. The good news is that TSA has now enrolled a million people in the program, giving them low-hassle screening and easing the congestion in the regular screening lanes. It has also announced that people who previously “joined” PreCheck via their airline frequent flyer program (i.e., without enrolling, paying the $85 fee, and getting a background check) will not be getting access to PreCheck lanes as often as they used to, unless they are also a participant in one of DHS’s trusted traveler programs (Global Entry, NEXUS, or SENTRI), which are open to anyone who can pay the membership fee and pass the background check.

The bad news is that TSA’s two programs that allow non-enrolled air travelers to use the lanes seemingly at random have produced their first known failure. As the DHS Office of Inspector General reported last month, a convicted felon who was formerly a member of a domestic terror organization (Sara Jane Olson) was allowed to use a PreCheck lane at Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport. The screener recognized Olson, but a supervisor over-ruled his judgement that she was not low-risk.

That fiasco led to a March 25th hearing by the transportation security subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee. Subcommittee members from both parties were positive about PreCheck as a program for people who enroll after receiving a TSA background check, but they were highly critical of the two programs TSA has concocted to let large numbers of non-members use the PreCheck lanes: “Managed Inclusion” and “Automated Risk Assessment.”

As criticized in a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Managed Inclusion relies on TSA Behavior Detection Officers (BDOs) to pull travelers out of the lines awaiting regular screening and vet them on-the-spot as low enough risk to be shifted over to the PreCheck lane(s). The other program, Automated Risk Assessment, uses information from TSA’s Secure Flight information on every passenger and about the specific flight in question to select, using a risk algorithm, a certain number of passengers who will be shifted into the PreCheck lanes. It was this latter program that enabled Sara Jane Olson to be selected for PreCheck rather than regular screening.

At the hearing, DHS Inspector General John Roth expressed his office’s concerns that the rules for those two programs “are inadequate to ensure only low-risk populations receive PreCheck screening.” He also noted that “TSA has not adopted the majority of our recommendations” regarding these programs. And Jennifer Grover, Director of Homeland Security and Justice at GAO, told the subcommittee that GAO still has concerns about Managed Inclusion, which “TSA has not yet demonstrated . . . [as] effective at providing the intended level of security.”

Subcommittee chair Rep. John Katko (R, NY) asked TSA Chief Risk Officer Kenneth Fletcher if a much larger enrollment of vetted members in PreCheck would “change the calculus for wanting to use Managed Inclusion,” and Fletcher readily agreed that it would, saying, “We want to dramatically expand the application program.” Rep. Mike Rogers (R, AL) asked Fletcher to explain and justify Managed Inclusion and was not satisfied with his answers. Fletcher also admitted that the known felon/terrorist who was granted access to the PreCheck lane by a supervisor “would not have been accepted through the application enrollment program.” And in response to Katko’s pointed comment that “the Risk Assessment and Managed Inclusion approach aren’t as thorough and good as doing the PreCheck background check,” Fletcher replied, “Yes, I would agree with that.”

As the hearing wound down, Katko asked Fletcher what had happened to the planned third-party enrollment program under which data security companies would set up numerous enrollment centers at convenient locations nationwide-but for which the RFP was suddenly withdrawn in February. Fletcher explained that one provision that had aroused privacy concerns should not have been included, so they withdrew the RFP to fix that. He said he is hoping the RFP will be out “soon.” And he added that expanded marketing and enrollment of this kind is “our best opportunity to shut down, dial back on Managed Inclusion and Risk Assessment.” And in response to a question from Rep. Katko, he also noted that algorithms now exist that would permit such companies to screen out higher-risk applicants “without having to go through the traditional fingerprint-based NCIC check.”

This all makes good sense, but the third-party expanded enrollment program has suffered delay after delay within TSA. Congress should simply ban both Managed Inclusion and Risk Assessment as holes in the risk-based security system. That would give TSA increased motivation to get the third-party program up and running, generating plenty of additional vetted travelers to use its PreCheck lanes.

» return to top

Atlanta Incidents Highlight Employee Security Shortcomings

First came last December’s exposure of a gun-smuggling operation under which two Delta employees at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport smuggled guns onto airliners. That was followed in March by an NBC-DFW investigation that revealed that more than 1,400 airport worker security badges at Hartsfield-Jackson were missing and unaccounted for. Both incidents have led to congressional concerns, and policy changes are likely.

Hartsfield-Jackson general manager Miguel Southwell told a congressional hearing in January that he intended to move toward full airport-employee screening, as both Miami and Orlando did following similar employee smuggling incidents. CNN reported in February that the Atlanta airport had begun screening employee bags before letting them enter secure areas and closing off many of the 70 access points to secure areas outside the terminals. Airport spokesman Reese McCranie told CNN that this was the start of a “phased-in approach to get to full employee screening.” The airport plans to get down to just 10 entry points.

NBC News/Chicago reported on March 18th that TSA may be moving to mandate airport employee screening. It quoted TSA’s acting deputy administrator, Mark Hatfield, saying that “TSA is conducting an insider threat analysis to identify potential indicators of criminality or threats to aviation that could provide insight into new training operations, or methods of screening and vetting employees.” Airport Business (Feb./March 2015) reported that about 960,000 employees (of airlines, airports, vendors, concessionaires, etc.) have access to secure areas via about 18,000 access points at airports with TSA screening It also cited TSA estimates that it provided 257,979 hours of random employee screening nationwide last year. That sounds like a lot, but it’s only 707 hours a day spread over some 450 airports-less than 2 hours per day per airport.

Lost or stolen security badges are another problem, since employees must display such a badge to enter secure portions of the airport known collectively as the as the secure information display area (SIDA). The SIDA badge is issued after the employee has passed an FBI criminal history background check. It includes a photo, and the employee must enter a PIN in addition to displaying the badge to pass through an entrance. Lost badges are supposed to be reported immediately, so they can be de-activated in the system, but this does not always happen. A stolen SIDA badge could be used by an intruder to walk through an open gate, and once through, the intruder wearing the badge would appear to be authorized to be there.

When NBC-DFW did its investigation, it sent queries to large number of airports. Atlanta was the first to respond, but TSA then forbade all other airports to respond to the query. Therefore, we have no idea how common this problem of missing badges is at other airports. Sen. John Thune (R, SD) and three other senators (from both parties) sent a letter to acting TSA Administrator Melvin Carraway asking for specifics on missing badges at all TSA-served airports over the last five years.

Some security experts are expecting TSA to soon mandate 100% employee screening at airports, which could well be overkill. However, the benefit/cost trade-off would be a lot more favorable if such a mandate allowed other airports to follow the example of Miami and Orlando, both of which use private security companies rather than what would be a hugely expanded TSA screening workforce.

A second approach-either as an alternative to 100% screening or as a supplement-would be to shift the process of employee vetting from the current TSA practice of once every 5 years to “perpetual vetting,” under which data vetting would take place on an ongoing basis, to discover recent events (e.g., felony convictions) that would be disqualifying were they known about as soon as they happened. That approach could supplement current random screening. But if 100% employee screening ends up being mandated, then employees who agreed to participate in perpetual vetting could bypass the regular daily employee screening, just as pre-vetted air travelers can use the PreCheck fast lane.

» return to top

Central Planning Still Plagues LaGuardia Airport

The long-overdue $3.6 billion replacement of LGA’s antiquated, “Third World” Central Terminal has been postponed yet again. Three years ago teams of companies responded to the Port Authority’s Request for Information about their interest in replacing the terminal via a long-term public-private partnership. After many convoluted steps, the competition finally took place last year, leading to two finalist teams: one from Goldman Sachs, Aeroports de Paris, and Tutor Perini and the other consisting of Morgan Stanley, Meridiam, Vantage Airports, andSkanska.

But out of the blue last October, just before the winning bidder was to be announced, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, with Vice President Joe Biden in tow, announced an international design competition for all three New York airports. Conceptual designs were due Feb. 2nd, and Gov. Cuomo’s office told the Wall Street Journal that it had received six submissions for LGA and four for JFK. No schedule for selecting the winners has been announced. With this going on, the Port Authority and its two Central Terminal finalists have been left cooling their heels, and at last word, the agency’s tentative April deadline for announcing the terminal project winner has been abandoned.

As if things were not confusing enough, at the beginning of March the Port Authority announced it would begin a serious study of lifting the 1,500-mile perimeter rule it adopted in 1984, intended to reinforce its plan for Newark (EWR) and JFK to be the metro area’s long-haul and international airports and LGA providing short and medium-haul service only. An earlier version of that rule, adopted when JFK (then called Idlewild) had just opened in 1948, was intended to shift all longer-haul flights from LGA to JFK.

This kind of central planning is common to multi-airport monopolies, but has a number of unintended, harmful consequences. First, in the huge and spread-out New York metro area of 20 million people, it deprives customers in many parts of the region of good short/medium-haul air service, unless they manage to schlep their way to far-off LGA. Second, by focusing short/medium service at LGA, the policy significantly reduces the kind of feeder flights that enable a major airport like JFK to serve as a transfer hub. A similar set of perverse consequences for decades deprived Dulles International Airport of the feeder traffic needed for a serious hub operation, due to the perimeter rule at Reagan National.

It’s not as if LGA is incapable of serving longer routes or handling larger planes. Its two 7,000 ft. runways once served wide-bodied DC-10s, L-1011s, and B-767s. And today’s long-range 737s, 757s, and A321s can and do fly transcontinental routes (e.g., from the west coast to BWI in Baltimore). It is widely believed that if the Port Authority scraps the perimeter rule, most airlines would reduce or eliminate their short-haul service at LGA in favor of long-haul routes that would be much in demand by those for whom LGA is their closest airport. But some of that short-haul service would become feeder service to airports that hub at EWR or JFK.

Politicization and central planning of this sort only arise when public policy supports a single political entity to control the vast majority of the airport capacity in a metro area. The alternative model is one of competing airports, and it’s not just a libertarian’s fantasy. The San Francisco Bay Area has three separately owned airports-SFO, OAK, and SJC. They compete regionwide for passengers, and provide a changing mix of short, medium, and long-haul service, depending on demand. The same holds true in the Los Angeles metro area, with LAX competing for medium/short-haul service with BUR, LGB, SNA, and ONT.

The former British Airports Authority once owned and operated Heathrow, Gatwick, and Stansted as a shared monopoly. And when the Margaret Thatcher government privatized BAA, it ignored the advice of several think tanks and privatized the entire BAA as a single company. It was several decades before the idea of competing airports gained credibility, and BAA was required to divest Gatwick and Stansted.

I feel for the Port Authority’s managers, having to put up with the intervention of the Governor in what by now should be a PPP project under way rebuilding LGA’s Central Terminal. And I commend them for being willing to consider scrapping the perimeter rule. Perhaps someday there will be the political will to consider divesting the three New York airports, letting each seek its optimal role based on serving its customers’ demand.

» return to top

All-You-Can-Fly Business Models Expanding

Back in July 2013 I wrote about startup airline Surf Air, based in California. Its innovative business model was to offer members on-demand short-haul service among a limited set of California cities for a flat monthly fee, initially $1,650/month. It aimed at business travelers who can afford to fly first class on scheduled airlines but don’t like the airport hassles and are not willing or able to purchase fractional ownership shares in an aircraft. Surf’s initial operations use Pilatus PC-12 single-engine turboprop planes with six passenger seats.

The model appears to be a success, with about 1,100 paid members as of last December, and service now at Carlsbad, Hawthorne, Burbank, Santa Barbara, and San Carlos (in Silicon Valley). The Hawthorne-San Carlos route is up to three times a day each way, and the monthly membership fee is now $1,750. With venture capital raised last year, Surf Air was able to order 15 more PC-12s, plus 50 options. The company also sees significant market potential within Texas and later Florida.

Surf Air has also spawned a pair of spin-offs. Founder Wade Eyerly left last year, and is developing a new version called Beacon. Unlike Surf, it will provide scheduled service on an interstate basis, with initial routes encompassing Boston, New York (Westchester), East Hampton (Long Island) and Nantucket. Beacon’s monthly membership fee will be $2,000, and instead of owning planes it will contract with a third party to provide and fly the planes.

Eyerly is also advising start-up Rise Airways in Dallas. Its initial base of operation will be Dallas Love Field, with scheduled flights to several Texas destinations from there. A February article showed the interior of a refurbished Beech King Air 350 with what appear to be six leather seats. Beacon and Rise will offer reciprocal flight benefits to members.

Surf, Beacon, and Rise are still tiny. But if their appeal catches on, this new business model could become as big a factor in business aviation as fractional ownership.

» return to top

News Notes

Spanish Airports Valued at $9.9 Billion. The Spanish government held an initial public offering for 49% of the shares in state-owned airports operator AENA. Based on the prices paid for that 49%, investors valued the 46-airport company at $9.9 billion. The offering was oversubscribed 5.5 times, with most of the investors identified as infrastructure investment funds and sovereign wealth funds. The single largest stake (6.5%) was acquired by UK’s Children’s Investment Fund, followed by Morgan Stanley buying 3.6%.

Orlando Airport to Retain TSA Screening. After some two years of deliberation, a special committee of the Orlando International Airport’s board has recommended that MCO not outsource passenger screening via TSA’s Screening Partnership Program. But it recommended that TSA meet a set of screening performance standards in order to continue being the airport’s screening provider. The plan must be ratified by the full airport board in order to go into effect.

Gatwick Offers Noise Compensation to Airport Neighbors on Second Runway Plan. The owners of London Gatwick-engaged in a struggle with London Heathrow for permission to add a new runway-have moved to shore up support from airport neighbors that would be affected by increased airport noise. It has made an offer to pay £1,000 of the annual local tax bill of anyone living within the 57 dB noise threshold along the nine miles of the approach corridor of the new runway. The U.K. Civil Aviation Authority reports that there are 1,600 homes within that area.

Seattle-Area Council Approves Second Passenger Airport. On March 2nd, the Snohomish City Council approved an agreement between Propeller Airports and Paine Field under which the company would design and obtain permits for its proposed passenger terminal at the airport. Assuming the permits are granted, Propeller would sign a 30-year lease under which it would build and operate the terminal. And that, the company and the City Council majority hope, would offer residents of Seattle’s northern suburbs an alternative to the long trek southward to SEA-TAC, at least for regional flights. In the past, both Alaska and Allegiant Airlines have expressed interest in serving Paine Field.

Air Canada Opposing Porter’s Bid for Jets at Toronto City Airport. Toronto already has scheduled service from two airports, with the second being downtown’s Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, with extensive regional turboprop service from Porter Airlines. Over the past year Porter has been urging that the island airport’s runway be lengthened to permit it to operate the new CSeries jets from Bombardier, now in flight testing. Porter has 12 of the planes on order. Air Canada is now lobbying against the plan, fearing competition on its longer routes that Porter could serve with jets from Billy Bishop.

Peotone Airport Would Have Little Impact on ORD and MDW, Says FAA. A new report from the FAA finds that if the planned South Suburban Airport at Peotone, IL is built and offers commercial air service, there would be “minimal impact” on the region’s two main commercial airports’ air traffic patterns. This report is the 9th of ten items that must be completed for the FAA to file its Record of Decision regarding the project. The final step is an environmental impact study. The airport project, being pursued by the Illinois DOT, is currently on hold, pending a financial review ordered by the new Governor on all proposed large infrastructure projects in the state.

Airport Privatization News in South America. In Chile, a consortium of Aeroports de Paris and Vinci Airports won the 20-year concession to build and operate a $700 million international terminal at Santiago’s Arturo Merino Benitez Airport. Its bid offered the government 77.56% of the concession revenue from the new terminal. Paraguay has just begun the tender process for a concession to develop a new international airport for its capital city, Asuncion. It would be among the first large projects implemented under the country’s new PPP law.

Airport Privatization in the Caribbean. The government of Jamaica has re-issued the Request for Qualifications for teams hoping to bid for the concession to modernize Norman Manley International Airport in the country’s capital city, Kingston. Qualifications are due April 17th. And the St. Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority has begun a competition for a concession to modernize and operate its Hewanorra International Airport. It hopes to finalize a concession agreement for the project by the end of August.

ACLU Sues TSA Over Behavior Detection Program. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a Freedom of Information lawsuit aimed at forcing TSA to divulge how it operates its behavior detection programs such as SPOT and Managed Inclusion. ACLU attorney Hugh Handeyside said that the classified nature of documents about the programs hides the fact that there is no evidence the programs are effective. The agency has spent more than $1 billion on SPOT, despite serious criticisms by the GAO and the National Academy of Sciences.

Alliance Airport at 25. Twenty-five years ago a company run by Ross Perot, Jr. opened Fort Worth Alliance Airport, a unique public-private partnership to develop a freight logistics hub built around a cargo airport. The city of Fort Worth owns the airport, while Perot’s Hillwood company owns and leases out the surrounding properties. A Hillwood subsidiary, Alliance Air Services, operates and manages the airport. Today the complex includes a major intermodal rail terminal, Fedex’s Southwest Regional Sort Hub, aircraft modification company GDC Technics, and numerous warehouse and distribution center facilities. There are 400 companies at Alliance, with 40,000 employees in $8 billion worth of facilities.

Greek Airport Privatization on Hold. The struggling Greek government has halted the planned handover of 14 regional airports to a consortium led by German airport company Fraport. Late last year Fraport was selected as the winning bidder for a 40-year concession to operate and upgrade the airports, and had committed to pay $1.5 billion for the concession, in addition to the up to $1.74 billion it planned to invest on upgrades. Although the deal has not been canceled, Fraport announced late in March that the acquisition is unlikely to be completed by the end of 2015.

» return to top

Quotable Quotes

“In recent years, the major commercial airport operators have made it clear that they are willing to give up AIP in exchange for higher PFCs. The airlines have objected, arguing that they prefer to pay for newer and larger facilities through higher rental charges and landing fees. The airports-and the local governments aligned with them-think the airlines are too parsimonious. Although there is no perfect answer, it seems to me that the airports have the better part of the argument. In many cases, our airports have lagged behind those in other countries, disadvantaging the U.S. in competition for visitors and imposing less than optimal travel venues on passengers. The GAO has studied the impact of higher PFCs on passenger traffic, and finds that higher charges have little impact on the volume of travel. Moreover, many international carriers, and IATA itself, believe that facility charges should be recovered directly from passengers. I think that doing a deal to swap higher PFCs for AIP-and building in provisions to give airlines some protection from airport grandiosity-would be a good deal for the airports, the airlines, airline passengers, and Mr. and Mrs. America who do not want to travel through run-down, out-of-date airport facilities. . . . It’s a deal I’d embrace in a heartbeat-and one I’d hope today’s leaders will think seriously about.”
-Robert L. Crandall, Insight Lecture, Wings Club, March 26, 2015

“[E]ven if Congress were requiring airports to charge a specific PFC, it would still not be a tax; rather, it is a classic example of a user fee. Unlike taxes, user fees can only be imposed on the service beneficiaries. Taxes, in contrast, have nothing to do with the provision of specific services. The primary beneficiaries of airports are the passengers who use the airports; thus, charging them a facility user fee that will be used solely for specific, statutorily-defined airport improvements cannot constitute a tax. Now, if the PFC revenues pooled by individual airports were suddenly diverted to things that don’t benefit the users-e.g., paying for food stamps-Americans for Tax Reform would have a case. Yet, as I noted, permitted use of PFC funds by local airports who collect it is only authorized for a narrow set of airport improvement projects. Given this reality, the faulty logic expressed in ATR’s letter becomes apparent.”
-Marc Scribner, “Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform Are Wrong about Passenger Facility Charge,” Competitive Enterprise Institute news release, March 26, 2015

“Gov. Cuomo is introducing some Third World politics to something that’s actually not hard: fixing [LaGuardia] airport. In the process, he’s proving that Chris Christie isn’t the only thing that ails the Port Authority, the supposedly nonpolitical agency that runs New York and New Jersey airports, the George Washington Bridge, and much else. . . . After Cuomo interested himself in our ‘Third World’ airport last year, the Port Authority Board delayed picking a winning bid. Last week, it announced another three-month delay. . . . Bottom line: Cuomo’s personal championing of a new terminal is delaying the project. Delays aren’t costless. Time means money, and not just because of inflation. And a redesign, wasting years of work, certainly means more money. The governor’s meddling also makes a mockery-if it’s even possible to do that-of the Port Authority’s post-Bridgegate ‘reform’ efforts. . . . We could, of course, privatize the airports-but both Cuomo and Christie need those airport profits to pay for all that dysfunction.”
-Nicole Gelinas, “Jamming Up LaGuardia: Andrew Cuomo’s Airport Meddling,” New York Post, Feb. 22, 2015

“I believe we made a big mistake in 2002 or 2003 when we set up the TSA. The Transportation Committee . . . had experts from the British, the Germans, the Israelis all come testify before the committee, and overwhelmingly they told us don’t set up a federal [agency]. . . . [Instead], have federal regulators looking, but allow the private sector to do the work.”
-Chairman Bill Shuster (R, PA), “GOP Chairman: TSA Was a ‘Big Mistake,'” The Hill, March 18, 2015

» return to top