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Clearing the skies with landing fees

Travelers wait in line to check in at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago.

TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: The Transportation Department is trying to do something about airport congestion. This week, it announced a new scheme for landing fees airports charge the airlines.

Those fees were based on the weight of the plane. Now, airlines will be charged based on when the flight lands. Nancy Marshall Genzer explains:


Nancy Marshall Genzer: The idea is, if airlines have to pay more to land during airport "rush hours," they'll spread their flights out more evenly.

Andrew Watterson: I'm very skeptical that this will work. I believe it will not.

Airline Analyst Andrew Watterson of Oliver Wyman says airlines will keep packing flights into morning and evening rush hours, because that's when people want to travel.

But University of Portland Finance professor Richard Gritta says the new policy might ease congestion a little because airlines will pass the higher landing fees onto rush hour passengers. That'll force frugal fliers onto off-peak flights.

Richard Gritta: And I think people might say, if it's cheaper to fly at this time because the fees are lower, I'm going to do it.

But Gritta says this isn't a permanent solution. Ultimately, he says, we a need to replace our antiquated system of tracking planes by radar with a new satellite-based air traffic control system.

In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.
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