Toll roads could take to the air

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Feb 19, 2008


Scott Jagow: If you flew over the weekend, I hope you got where you were going in a timely fashion. But flight delays are getting to be the norm rather than the exception. There are a lot more planes, and radar just can’t pinpoint their locations enough to ease the congestion.

The FAA wants to switch to satellites, a GPS system for the skies. But the problem is how to pay for it. Nancy Marshall Genzer reports.

Nancy Marshall Genzer: One bill floating around Capitol Hill would charge every plane in the sky $25.

Airline analyst Andrew Watterson says under this plan, airlines and private jets would pay for the new satellite system.

Andrew Watterson: Kind of a toll road in the sky is what’s being proposed, where big planes, little planes would all pay their toll to use the airways.

But the toll road concept doesn’t fly with some passenger groups. They’re afraid they’ll get stuck with the toll bill.

Richard Crum heads up the Association of Corporate Travel Executives. He says the federal government should pay because the new system will benefit everyone, not just passengers.

Richard Crum: Think of all of the cargo, small packages and movement of goods that happen across, through the air traffic management system.

Whoever pays, we need the new system soon. The FAA says if we do nothing, air traffic delays will increase 62 percent by 2014. You’ll have enough time to read War and Peace, and write a sequel!

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

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