There’s a lot of pushback to the Trump administration suggestion to sell off DC area airports.
I’d like to leave aside the particular proposal and make a few points about the concept, both selling the DC airports and federal assets generally. Even if you’re not a fan of the President (like me) or of ‘privatizing’ see if you can disagree with these.
- The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is nearly as bad as the Port Authority of New York New Jersey and Los Angeles World Airports. They’re known for nepotism, cost overruns, and sweetheart contracts for friends in spite of contracting rules.
- New York airports are effectively sold off already, the government grants future income streams from terminals to private developers in exchange for those developers putting up the money to refurbish terminals. Technically ownership doesn’t change but it’s the same thing in practice.
How You Get Between Terminals at JFK
- Airports are private in much of the rest of the world, where airports are generally better.
- Government hasn’t been able to build a new significant commercial airport since Denver. That’s decades without new construction.
How You Get to Hell
What’s more we’re looking at trillion dollar deficits even during periods of economic growth. We either will not invest in infrastructure, have to raise taxes significantly to do it, or trade assets held by the federal government for assets that better serve the public.