Aviation Policy News: Study finds airports run best by infrastructure funds
Photo 312641038 © Nadezda Murmakova | Dreamstime.com

Aviation Policy Newsletter

Aviation Policy News: Study finds airports run best by infrastructure funds

Plus: Competition emerges for space-based communications and surveillance, Colorado airport seeks rescue of its remote/digital tower, and more.

In this issue:

Study Finds Airports Run Best by Infrastructure Funds

A major study of the impact of airport privatization finds far better airport performance if private infrastructure funds lead the privatization entity. This study is “All Clear for Takeoff: Evidence from Airports on the Effects of Infrastructure Privatization.” It’s the revised version of the National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 30544, the preliminary version of which I reviewed in the Oct. 2022 issue of this newsletter.

The research team, led by Sabrina T. Howell of New York University’s Stern School of Business, began with a database of 2,444 airports in 217 countries, of which 437 have been privatized. Since 102 of the airports have been owned at least once by a private infrastructure fund (referred to as private equity [PE] in the text), they were able to compare the performance of airports with majority PE ownership and those with none or only a minority stake. The data extend over the period 1996 to 2019.

Among the overall results is that PE airports end up with 21% more passengers per flight. Growth in passenger traffic is four times as much for PE airports compared with non-PE privatized airports, according to the study. PE airports are more likely to have deregulated airport pricing, which leads to airlines using larger aircraft, on average. And the airport’s physical capacity expands, especially the size of its terminals. And while both PE and non-PE privatized airports show increases in the number of airlines and routes, the increases are larger for PE airports, including far larger increase in service by low-cost carriers (LCCs). Airports operated by PE entities are also more likely to score higher in Airport Council International’s annual Airport Service Quality awards.

The authors explore why and how the role of private equity firms leads to such dramatic changes in performance. One aspect is that non-PE privatizers tend to acquire airports in developing countries (which score higher on corruption indexes). In those cases, non-PE ownership has “zero or negative effects” on airline traffic volume, number of routes, passengers per flight, etc. Another observation is that when both PE and non-PE firms bid on an airport privatization, PE wins 77% of the time, due to “PE paying a premium because of its greater ability to create value.” And in cases where the airport is served by a state-owned “flag carrier,” PE ownership generates much larger increases in the number of airlines and low-cost carriers in particular,” which suggests that PE ownership leads to reducing or eliminating special privileges for the flag carrier.

Interestingly, the researchers find that “performance improvements are substantially larger when there is a competing airport nearby.” This occurs for both PE and non-PE privatizations, but this effect of competition is “magnified under PE ownership, consistent with PE firms being more responsive to competitive incentives.”

After describing a number of tests of their data, the authors conclude that “privatization consistently leads to better performance only with PE involvement.” The companies bring knowledge of global best practices, new managers with higher-powered compensation, and capital. And this leads to new strategies, including investing in capacity expansion, service improvements, and better negotiating with airlines. They point out that airline passengers in many cases have options, such as an alternative airport, driving or rail travel. Hence, service quality becomes very important to the PE owner.

This landmark study reinforces the findings of the relatively small number of previous studies on the effects of airport privatization. It covers a longer period of time, its sample size is much larger, and it is the first to distinguish between PE and non-PE ownership. Its results may open the door to further consideration of long-term public-private partnership (P3) leases of U.S. airports whose local or state government owners would like their airport to achieve the kinds of performance improvements this study documents.

Note: some of the data in this study distinguishes between public-private partnership concessions of less than 30 years and ones longer than that, which they refer to as “sales.” It’s clear that when the authors refer to “ownership,” in most cases, they are referring to long-term P3s, rather than fee-simple ownership. The paper may be downloaded from the National Bureau of Economic Research’s website.

» return to top

Could Avoiding Contrails Be Aviation’s Ace in the Hole?

There is growing pressure on the world’s airlines to achieve “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050. These pressures are strongest in Europe, where there is serious talk about limiting and reducing airport capacity and mandating shifts of short-haul travel from air to rail. Despite the lofty net zero goals, offsetting air-travel emissions has not gained much support, new technologies to power commercial aircraft (especially for long-haul international flights) are nowhere near operational, prospects for producing enough sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) are questionable, and estimates of the cost per gallon range from twice to six times as much as jet fuel. This is leading some to ask, “Is it time for aviation to set more realistic emissions goals?” as in a commentary with that title by William Moore in Aviation Daily’s March 29 issue.

While I tend to agree with Moore’s concern for perhaps “moving the goalposts” and also (which he did not suggest) comparing of the cost of various emission-reduction mechanisms with the costs of reduced air travel to the world economy. But that’s a topic for another day.

What needs more immediate attention in addressing aviation’s overall climate dilemma is the role of contrails in global climate warming. Over the past several years, I’ve read many articles and several detailed research papers on the formation of contrails, their contribution to atmospheric warming, and ways of mitigating their impact, primarily by preventing their formation. The problem we need to address is the total “radiative forcing” due to air travel, not just the emission of CO2 and other exhaust products. Estimates of the contribution of contrails to aviation’s total radiative forcing range from 30% to 60%.

A number of research projects are ongoing, seeking to better predict the conditions under which aircraft exhaust generates contrails. Basically, aircraft need on-board sensing devices to detect imminent ice crystal formation and real-time information on changes in altitude and direction to avoid those portions of the airspace. A growing number of flight trials are taking place, and it appears that in many or most cases, relatively small changes in altitude or route can avoid the generation of contrails.

The most encouraging news I’ve seen is a piece in Aviation Week (March 25-April 7) headlined “Contrail Avoidance is Affordable.” In a very recent paper, Alejandra Martin Frias and Mark Shapiro drew on recent flight tests to estimate that the cost (in terms of extra fuel and time) of avoiding contrail-forming airspace would be close to 0.1% of a flight’s cost— to avoid 73% of contrail formation. In their paper, based on about 85,000 American Airlines flights, only 6.2% could not be re-routed to avoid the suspect airspace.

If these results can be replicated, this is tremendously good news. What’s also needed is more rigorous analysis of the contribution of contrails to aviation’s total radiative forcing. If it is in the 60% ballpark, that would be very good news, because things like CO2 reduction would then constitute only 40% of aviation’s impact. That would be a more-achievable target by 2050 than eliminating 100% of aviation CO2.

» return to top

Competition Emerges for Space-Based Communications and Surveillance

First, there was Aireon, formed by a group of air navigation service providers (ANSPs), including Nav Canada, creating the world’s first global satellite-based aviation surveillance via satellite-mounted ADS-B transceivers. That pioneering system went live on the North Atlantic in 2019 and currently has ANSP subscribers responsible for service over more than 50% of the earth’s surface. (FAA, alas, is not a subscriber, despite its huge amounts of oceanic airspace.)

There have been signs over the past year that competitors were emerging to Aireon’s first-mover “monopoly,” but the trigger for getting such companies under way for real was a December decision by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to open up spectrum for VHF communications in oceanic and remote airspace. Quickly filing for VHF frequencies were Australian startup Skykraft and a public-private partnership called Starticle based in Spain. Also filing was Aireon, understanding the value of offering space-based VHF voice communications in oceanic and remote airspace rather than today’s unreliable HF radio.

Skykraft, based in Canberra, last year carried out a trial with ANSP Airservices Australia, demonstrating satellite communications for VHF voice radio. It had launched 10 prototype small-sats (via SpaceX Falcon 9 rideshare flights) to test its technology. It plans to launch 50 operational satellites next year, building toward entry into service in 2026 with a growing constellation. It will offer both VHF voice/data service and ADS-B surveillance via that constellation.

Starticle is a joint venture of Spanish ANSP ENAIRE and aerospace firm Indra. Like Skykraft, Starticle plans a constellation of satellites providing both VHF and ADS-B service. It plans to launch a microsatellite for testing purposes, developed by Kongsburg NanoAvionics. Its planned constellation of dual-function satellites (ADS-B and VHF) is envisioned as 270 or more.

Although Aireon has a huge head start, its current ADS-B transceiver is a payload on the Iridium communications satellite network. As Bill Carey reported in Aviation Week (March 27-April 7), it may have to develop a separate satellite constellation in order to add VHF voice and data to its services in a timely manner. In March it announced a consortium of ADS-B subscribing ANSPs to work together on space-based VHF: Airnav Ireland, Enav (Italy), NATS (UK), Nav Canada, and Naviair (Denmark). Aireon has a big head start on space-based ADS-B and a large subscriber base. It will be interesting to see what happens as two startup competitors begin operations.

» return to top   

Colorado Airport Seeks to Rescue Its Remote/Digital Tower Project

As previously reported in this newsletter, the Northern Colorado Regional Airport has found a potential new provider for its remote/digital tower project, after Searidge pulled out last year in the face of onerous new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification requirements. RTX (formerly Raytheon) hopes to complete the implementation and operation of the stalled project, but a sticking point has come up.

Several years ago, this state-funded project was able to obtain from FAA a STARS radar display for use with the prototype remote/digital tower. This is the same basic display used in larger and some Federal Contract Tower airports. Most VFR (visual flight rules) towers at small airports lack radar displays, limiting their tools for detecting, sequencing, and managing flights to controllers’ eyes and binoculars looking out tower windows, and communicating with planes via radio. Adding a radar display greatly improves a controller’s situational awareness, which increases safety. It’s especially valuable for a remote tower located off the airport or below ground!

Unfortunately, despite the potential new technology partner for the project (RTX), FAA now wants its STARS display back. In a 2023 memo, FAA announced that it “will not support, purchase, install, or maintain any new tower radar display systems,” regardless of whether the airport meets the qualification criteria. FAA will also not permit the use of “commercial tools” in an operational capacity at contract towers. An example of such a tool is Radar 24, which some VFR tower controllers use to provide additional situational awareness.

There are some airports that have legacy radar detectors on the airport but cannot get a display. Examples include Jackson Hole Airport (JAC) in Wyoming and Roberts Field Airport (RDM) in Redmond, Oregon. In addition, with the widespread use of ADS-B, many more airports have surveillance coverage and could greatly benefit from displays showing aircraft locations and movements.

Prior to the FAA’s 2023 memo, a contract tower that met various FAA criteria could obtain a STARS display by signing a Reimbursable Agreement with FAA under which FAA provides the display and the airport pays for the system and some limited maintenance over time. That is no longer the case. This leaves the Northern Colorado Regional Airport and RTX in the ridiculous position of losing an important safety tool which the state aviation department has already paid for. And FAA itself would have to spend money removing it.

As Bill Payne, program manager of the Colorado Digital Tower Project points out, RTX has developed a version of STARS called STARS Tower MiniElite, using FAA-certified hardware and software. It can operate as a stand-alone safety display, with no interface with FAA (if that were a condition of approval), but it can also operate in a one-way mode, receiving data from FAA but not sending data into the federal system (if FAA’s concern is data corruption). In a recently published article, Payne explains that the key components of this new mini-STARS have gone through the rigorous FAA certification process. But for VFR airports like this one, RTX has eliminated unnecessary components and functionality, which is expected to reduce its cost to what a VFR airport can afford.

Over the past year or so, FAA has gotten a reputation as being hostile to remote/digital towers, not only imposing such onerous certification requirements that Saab (at Leesburg, VA) and Searidge (Northern Colorado) pulled out—but also failing to implement the five-airport remote tower pilot project authorized by Congress in the 2018 FAA reauthorization. New FAA Administrator Mike Whittaker has taken several dramatic steps to address long-standing air traffic control problems. Enabling this state-funded remote/digital tower project to be implemented with a STARS MiniElite would send the aviation world and Congress a welcome signal.

» return to top

Europe’s New Plan for a Single Sky—Not

Last month, the European Commission announced its new approach to finally achieve a single, unified airspace with more efficient and more climate-friendly aircraft operations that would save time, money, and the climate. Unfortunately, as Aviation International Reporter’s Andrew Charlton explained in their April issue, “The reforms have explored all possible permutations of structure and of change to de-fragment Europe’s airspace. Almost all permutations except the ones that will actually de-fragment Europe’s airspace and reduce waste, duplication, cost, and emissions. That would require concessions from the member states of Europe and their national ANSPs [air navigation service providers].”

Before going on, here is a comparison of U.S. and European airspace from several years ago:

MetricU.S. continentalEurocontrol members
Area (sq. km.)10.4 million11.5 million
# of ANSPs137
Approach control facilities2616
En-route facilities2062
Airports with towers517406
Average daily flights41,87428,475
Total ANSP staff31,64751,130
% of ANSP staff38.5%32.3%

Source: “FAA/Eurocontrol Comparison of Air Traffic Management-Related Operational Performance: US/Europe.” (https:www.ansperformance.eu)

As you can see, Europe has three times as many en-route centers as the United States, to serve a much smaller number of daily flights. That’s what the term “fragmented airspace” refers to. It also means that air traffic control costs a lot more in Europe (to support all those centers and staff members). And it means that aircraft have to follow zig-zag paths through the convoluted airspace, rather than the most efficient (and hence least environmentally damaging) routes.

Facility consolidation to make the airspace independent of borders is anathema to most European parliaments, as well as to ANSP controller unions. So that is not included in SES 2+. Nor is there any mention of the concept of “virtual centers,” which could gradually accomplish facility consolidation but with less required relocation of controllers. What the Commission produced is “performance plans with binding targets and incentives to make flights more efficient and environmentally friendly.” The plans will have targets for capacity, cost-efficiency, and climate/environmental factors, with reviews every three years. To paraphrase classic-rock group The Who, “Meet the new boss; same as the old boss.”

Not all member governments breathed sighs of relief. Aviation Daily (March 21) quotes Irish transport minister Jack Chambers, calling SES 2+ “[A] complete failure of European politics that’s taken about 20 years to get to the point of minimalism,” brought about by “blinkered lobbying by some member states.” He added that, “The value proposition is minimal and will do very little to deliver environmental and economic performance in aviation.” Eurocontrol, generally supportive of streamlining, took a cautious approach in response. Given the lack of meaningful streamlining, it advised pilots and controllers not to request or grant requests for direct routings (which would be standard practice in a streamlined system) because Eurocontrol modeling shows that such exceptions reduce the predictability of arrivals at airports, and even reform proponent IATA, speaking on behalf of airlines, had to agree.

One airline plans to fight back, by dramatizing what has been foregone by avoiding real streamlining of the system. Easyjet announced that it will soon count unnecessary emissions route by route and share those numbers with European governments (and, one hopes, the media). CEO Johan Lundgren said Europe’s air traffic management inefficiencies are “an absolute waste” of fuel. It plans to overlay its actual emissions with the savings that could be achieved with fully-optimized air traffic management.

» return to top

Are Low-Cost Carriers Losing Out?

The federal judge who ruled against the planned merger of Spirit and JetBlue famously stated that his decision was in the interest of Spirit’s ultra-low-fare customers, who were certain to pay more as Spirit’s planes were reconfigured with fewer seats. (“This one’s for you,” he said to Spirit customers.) However, after nine consecutive unprofitable quarters, Spirit’s stand-alone future is at risk.

Airline analyst William Swelbar was quoted shortly thereafter in Aviation Daily saying, “The industry is moving more toward JetBlue and away from Spirit and the vaunted ULCC model,” and “the rapid growth of the ULCC sector has stalled.” I respectfully disagree. Let’s take a look at some of the players.

First of all, the two newest U.S. low-cost carriers, Avelo and Breeze, have announced their first operating profits. Avelo recently announced its first quarterly operating profit and also the lease of five additional 737NGs from GOL airlines in Brazil. In November it launched its first offshore route, serving Puerto Rico from New Haven and Philadelphia. It also relocated its western United States base from Las Vegas to Santa Rosa, CA (STS). Avelo has nine 737-800s and seven 737-700s, and is seeking to lease five more 737NGs by first-quarter 2025.

Competing startup Breeze Airways announced its first monthly operating profit in March and is predicting an operating profit for all of 2024. Its network now includes 56 airports with more than 170 nonstop routes. Due to its growth, it is phasing out its 10 Embraer E190s, reserving them for charter flights, and expects to have 32 Airbus A220-300s in its fleet by year-end. The A220s include 12 premium seats at the front of the cabin, in a departure from the strict ultra low-cost carriers (ULCC) model.

Pioneering Allegiant Air, which is set up as a travel company that includes an airline, has had some difficult years and its stock price has declined. Its current expansion plan focuses on international routes, beginning with Mexico via a joint venture with Viva Aerobus. It is also looking at leisure travel routes to the Caribbean. The airline has 120 aircraft, all in the A320 family. It also has 50 Boeing 737 Max’s on order, expecting to receive 10-12 by the end of the year.

Frontier Airlines is still adapting its ULCC model, despite an $11 million net loss in 2023. It is also phasing in optional premium seats in the front cabin, a la Breeze. And in January, Frontier announced expanded service at 38 airports, focusing on under-served and over-priced routes. One of these is international, to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Speaking of international routes, Canada’s Porter Airlines is expanding its routes to U.S. destinations. Starting in June it will launch nonstop service between Montreal and both LAX and SFO, its first west-coast U.S. destinations. They will be served by Embraer E195-E2 aircraft seating 132 passengers. Porter has ordered 80 of these aircraft. Porter’s U.S.-Canada routes will provide low-fare competition to U.S. carriers, so they will be competitive options for U.S. passengers as well as Canadians.

Overall, these LCCs and ULCCs are examples of our competitive, open-entry market at work. It does not need a helping hand from the U.S. Department of Justice, as long as open-entry conditions prevail.

» return to top

News Notes

FAA Shifting Newark ATC to Philadelphia TRACON
In a surprising but welcome decision on March 20, FAA announced that approach and departure control for the Newark Airport airspace would be relocated from understaffed and troubled New York TRACON (N90) to the Philadelphia TRACON. The move, studied for years but opposed by N90 controllers, is expected to relieve some of the chronic congestion and delays in the New York airspace, currently the source of up to 75% of all U.S. flight delays, according to FAA itself. For details on the N90 problem, see the articles “Why the New York Airspace Remains a Mess” and “New York TRACON, Part 2” in the Jan. 2024 and Feb. 2024 issues of this newsletter. Kudos to FAA Administrator Mike Whittaker for implementing this long-needed change.

India Plans Consolidation of its National Airspace
On April 6, the government of India announced plans to consolidate its four Flight Information Regions into a single airspace managed from a center in Nagpur in “a unique central location in the country.” The current high-altitude centers are in Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, and Mumbai. India’s air navigation service provider (ANSP) Airports Authority of India manages by far the largest airspace in the Asia-Pacific region, totaling 2.8 million square miles. The news release did not explicitly say that the four current centers themselves will be consolidated into the new center in Nagpur, but that is the implication of the announcement. If so, India will join Australia, Germany, and the UK as countries that overcame the political obstacles to large-scale facility consolidation, which has been proposed in the United States but never seriously considered by either FAA or Congress.

$3 Billion Manila Airport P3 Finalized
Aviation Daily (April 3) reported that the 25-year public-private partnership (P3) concession to expand and modernize Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) has received government approval. The concession calls for the P3 team to double the airport’s capacity to 62 million annual passengers, via improved runways and terminal expansion. The Manila region’s population is in the top-10 metro areas worldwide, but inadequate airport capacity has constrained air travel. In addition to expanding NAIA, a second airport is under development 22 miles north of the city. To be known as New Manila International Airport (NMIA), it is also being developed as a long-term P3 concession. It’s initial capacity (in 2027) is expected to be 35 million annual passengers.

Eight ANSPs to Use Same Airspace Management Technology
For years an airspace management system developed and supported by Indra has been gaining adherents among European ANSPs. Called the iTEC Alliance, its users by last year included the ANSPs of Germany (DFS), Lithuania (Oro Naviigacija), Netherlands (LVNL), Norway (AVINOR), Poland (PANSA), Spain (ENAIRE), and the UK (NATS). On March 22, it was announced that Nav Canada had joined the iTEC Alliance, as its first non-European member. The move adds 26 million square kilometers of airspace to the 8 million already handled by Alliance members. NATS and Nav Canada are jointly responsible for the key North Atlantic airspace.

Progress on U.S. Pilot Hiring, but Regionals Still Understaffed
Aviation Week (March 25-April 7) reports year-end workforce figures showing that mainline airlines ended the year with 74.8 thousand pilots, up from 67.6 in 2022. But regional airlines saw a decrease, from 12.1 thousand in 2022 to 11.5 thousand in 2023. Regionals lost pilots (generally to the mainline carriers) in 2000, 2022, and 2023. So despite claims from airline unions that the pilot shortage is over, it’s clearly not over.

European Commissioner Eases Stance on Rail vs. Air
At a conference in Brussels on April 3, the European Commission Director General for transportation, Magda Kopczynska, argued that “We shouldn’t pit one transport mode against another, because ultimately people and businesses will choose what works for them.” Instead of mandating that some trips be taken by rail rather than air, “We have to make them both work,” becoming as “green” as they can. This is an encouraging sign for European transport policy.

Investment Funds Seek Newark Terminal 3 P3 Project
Infralogic reported (April 3) that various infrastructure investment funds have held discussions about a potential long-term P3 concession for the future upgrade of Terminal B at Newark Liberty Airport. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has approved successful revenue-financed P3 terminal projects at both LaGuardia (LGA) and Kennedy (JFK) airports. Another source in the article noted that the Port Authority has not announced any plans to consider a P3 for Terminal B and that its redevelopment is probably still some time away.

Schiphol Airport Flight Cuts Still In Question
The long-running saga of airlines versus the Dutch government over access to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport continues. In February, a report commissioned by the airport said that the airport would have to reduce its emissions (by curbing flights) by at least 30% to comply with Paris Agreement goals. On March 20, the Dutch District Court of The Hague declared that the state has acted unlawfully in not properly weighing the interests of airport neighbors regarding noise. But on April 5, a legal opinion from the Dutch attorney general said that the Dutch government may not independently shrink Schiphol to 460,000 annual flights. Doing so would require permission from the European Commission, since reduced flights would affect many other EU countries. The Dutch Supreme Court has not yet issued a final decision, but the news report noted that the Court “almost always takes the advice” of the attorney general.

Large Electricity Need Seen for eVTOL Vertiports
In a report for FAA, the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimated that the charging needs for electric vertical take-off (eVTOL) airports could increase electricity demand at vertiport sites by six to seven times, which would require upgrades to the electricity grid. The study found that the average vertiport would need 1 megawatt or greater charging capacity (enough to power around 800 homes), and such an increase generally requires “major grid upgrades and years of planning.” Similar findings have been reported for many potential locations for car and truck charging. The NREL eVTOL study modeled fights between New York and Atlantic City and between other points in New Jersey and Teterboro Airport.

Biden FAA Proposal May Include User Fees for Space Launches
The Wall Street Journal (April 7) reported that the administration’s recent FAA budget proposal suggests that commercial space-launch companies should pay for their use of airspace. The article cites the recent FAA aviation safety report, noting co-author David Grizzle saying, “Whenever SpaceX launches a flight, it requires massive air traffic control resources to clear the airspace around the launch window. And again, it pays zero.” The article also quotes consumer advocate William McGee saying, “This is a question of fundamental fairness. [The status quo is] the equivalent of having a toll system on a highway and waving through certain users and not others.” On a related matter, Aviation Week (March 25-April 7) cites a Department of Transportation (DOT) official as saying “Private jets are 7% of flights handled by the FAA but contribute just 0.6% of the user] taxes that make up [the AATF], describing this as “a corporate jet funding loophole.”

Who Would Fly on eVTOLs?
The Washington state DOT’s aviation division did a survey of 975 people across the country using an existing “willingness to fly” (WTF) scale. Overall, the most common responses were “agree” or “strongly agree” with the idea of flying on eVTOLs. But most respondents also wanted to wait until some months after such service began before trying it out. Of the eVTOL images presented, those with the most unusual-looking propulsion got the lowest WTF scores.

JetZero Subscale BWB Demonstrator Nears Flight Tests
Aviation Week (March 11-24) reported that startup JetZero is expected within the next month or so to begin flight tests of its 12.5% flying model of its planned blended wing body (BWB) aircraft. Flight tests of its full-size demonstrator are planned for 2027. It is under contract to be built by Northrop Grumman and its Scaled Composites subsidiary. Initial development is supported by venture capital and an Air Force contract.

JFK Terminal 6 P3 Gets New Investment
The $4.2 billion P3 concession for the new Terminal 6 at JFK has announced that its lead financial sponsor will be Investcorp Corsair. The company’s wholly owned Vantage Airport Group will be the developer, operator, and manager of the new terminal, reports Infralogic (Feb. 21). The project will replace the current Terminal 7 with a new 1.2 million square foot terminal, connected to Terminal 5. The concession agreement runs through 2060.

Digital Tower Solutions for Singapore in Frequentis Agreement
Remote/digital tower developer Frequentis in February signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Singapore’s ST Engineering to cooperate on remote/digital tower projects in Singapore and Southeast Asia. The project will focus on both civil and military use cases for such facilities.

Puerto Rico Halts Regional Airports P3 Effort
A feasibility study carried out by the Puerto Rico P3 Authority found that the case for a public-private partnership to improve and operate several regional airports did not pencil out. The P3 Authority is looking into a number of other P3 opportunities, according to an April 9 article from Infralogic.

Further Perspective on JSX vs. American and Southwest
Journalist Joseph Guinto has interviewed officials at American, JSX, and Southwest for a detailed article in the April issue of Texas Monthly: “The Upstart JSX Versus the Airline Bullies.”

The Federal Trade Commission’s Defective Critique of Boeing
Infrastructure economist Dorothy Robyn has published a well-done assessment of the recent critique of Boeing as a “coddled national champion” company by the chair of the Federal Trade Commission.

» return to top

Quotable Quotes

“People think from their home to the point they want to go. They don’t think from airport to airport, and they will take the most convenient option. Why are a lot of people flying?  Because the train is so bad. So, improve the trains, but don’t abolish shorter flights. . . . I think the ticketing issue can be an enabler. We had this in Germany, where we decided to do the Deutschland ticket. We got rid of all the different types of tickets, where you are in front of the machine and you don’t understand anything. You only have one ticket, and it is valid across the whole of the country.”
—Jan-Christian Oetjen, European Parliament Vice President, “EC Sees Multimodal Transport Ease as Best for Improved Sustainability,” Aviation Daily, April 10, 2024

“[FTC Chair Lina] Khan’s critique of Boeing is defective in part because it ignores the basic economics of the commercial airline sector. The sector’s oligopolistic structure is a function of the enormous fixed costs and economies of scale and scope that characterize large aircraft production. Europe’s aggressive support for Airbus guaranteed that the United States be would left with a single producer. Thus, Kahn’s pejorative reference to industry concentration as an explanation for Boeing’s poor performance is puzzling in another way. The market for large commercial aircraft is global. U.S. airlines have the luxury of choosing between Boeing and Airbus for their fleets, and most U.S. airline fleets contain both. . . . It is disappointing that Kahn’s critique of Boeing, billed as a poster child for why other coddled national champions need antitrust scrutiny, reflected so little sectoral expertise and understanding of markets.”
—Dorothy Robyn, “Lina Kahn’s Defective Critique of Boeing as ‘National Champion,’” Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, March 27, 2024

» return to top