Should airport be privatized?

October 15, 2008 at 11:55 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

A new possibility has come forth on what to do about the ownership and management of Louis Armstrong International Airport. The City of New Orleans which owns it and the State of Louisiana have been investigating the possibility of the state buying it since it is a regional airport serving all of southeast Louisiana and the city can use the money.

It has been suggested that the passenger terminal which lies partly in St. Charles Parish could be turned over to private management through a lease either by the city or by the state if it is bought. This suggestion seems to have merit if it can be assured the public interest will be served in providing air transportation to the area. It could help keep politics out of the equation which usually does not make for the most efficient and economical means of operating a business.

Midway Airport in Chicago recently was turned over to a private operator on a 99-year lease for $2.5 billion. Armstrong Airport does about half the business of Midway but still, $1 billion or so would help shore up New Orleans infrastructure quite well. Of course, the interests of St. Charles and Jefferson Parishes would have to be served also since that is where the airport is located.

Overseas, more than 50 airports reportedly have been privatized, accounting for more than 10 percent of the worldwide market. It sounds like an idea that is beginning to take root and could be a solid development for the economic future of southeast Louisiana.

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