Monday, October 10, 2011

Daily Ranking - Underused Airports

The Infrastructurist has a list of the most underutilized airports in the world

Yup. 

Though I have to say the 'reason' they give is pretty misleading.  No mention at all of a few bankruptcies for USAirways and a terminal built to spec for a hub operation they abandoned. 

8 Comments:

Blogger Bill Price said...

It took me a minute to figure out what they meant by "PIA". I wonder why they didn't just use "PIT"... Then again, the whole bite-sized article has the scent of something whipped up in a half-hour or so.

Monday, October 10, 2011 6:21:00 PM  
Anonymous DBR96A said...

I prefer the term "overbuilt." It makes it sound more impressive.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 2:25:00 AM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

"Overbuilt" is indeed a better term, since the airport is being used pretty much as you would expect Pittsburgh Metro's airport to be used.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 8:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Query: What was the biggest waste of taxpayer dollars: spending a billion dollars building an airport to spec for USAir or Heinz Field/PNC Park/the D.L. Convention Center for the hospitality/sports industrial complex?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 9:44:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

In order from most wasteful to least:

1. PNC Park
2. Consul Arena (You didn't ask, but it doesn't seem fair to ignore it)
3. Convention Center
4. Heinz Field
5. Airport

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 10:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tax dollars were not used to construct the airport terminal. The construction costs and ongoing operating costs come from landing and rental fees paid by the airlines (and others) using the airport, as well as user fees assessed to passenger tickets.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

Tax dollars were not used to construct the airport terminal.

While I get the point trying to be make I disagree with that comment entirely. Yes you make clear you say 'tax' dollars, but note that is awfully different from 'taxpayer' dollars in the broader more important sense.

For one, the airport is a public authority by defintion. Landing fees, or any fees paid into a public authority are public money the moment they are paid.

The bigger point is the fallacy of a lot of public sector decisionmaking. You forget the opportunity cost. If the bonds were not there to be paid, there would still be landing fees which would then be allocated to other priorities by the airport. Just for example there might be lower fees and more service which would be a benefit not being realized by local taxpayers. So it is all a public cost to taxpayers in the end.. albeit not direct.

This is all the problem with special government (i.e. public authority) governance. The point is there is an illusion of isolation between the public authoirites and the general purpose governments elsewhere (like the county). It is convoluted, but the costs and risks all still fall back eventually. Take the SEA, also a public authority.. who has to back their budgetary shortfalls. Now at the airport authority you get this big dispute over mineral rights. You think the county is not going to find a way to make airport assets fungible. Same issue all around.

By that logic, every revenue bond out in the world is somehow not incurring any costs to any tax payer anywhere. I believe a lot of the bonds in Jefferson County, AL which is going bankrupt were revenue bonds and by that logic were not costing any taxpayer anything.. Yet clearly there are a lot of costs going to be paid down there as the result.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

and anyway I do believe you are only thinking of the bonds? There was certainly Pennsylvania funding that went directly into building the terminal and I speculate federal money as well. So even on the very limited point that the bond payments are being paid from airport revenues (landing fees...), that is not the whole picture.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 11:36:00 AM  

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