I just dont know what to think about this airport-takeover thing.
I can see both sides.
On the one hand, you have the city of Charlotte, which has run the airport since pterodactyls landed there. It has been a nurturing steward.
Charlotte built its airport in 1935 and continued to invest in it. Now there are 18,000 jobs associated with Charlotte Douglas International and an annual economic impact of $12 billion. Thanks to the giant US Airways hub, its the sixth busiest airport in the nation.
It is one of the most successful airports in all of civil aviation, and the city doesnt understand why the state legislature wants to install a commission to oversee it.
But on the other hand, I can also see the legislatures point.
Why should a gushing money mill like Charlotte Douglas be run by the city when state lawmakers have every legal right to plunge their snouts in the trough? Why should the city run it when Raleigh can easily snatch all the land, all the buildings and all the glory?
Why shouldnt representatives appointed by the governor, the speaker of the House and the president pro tem of the Senate have a say on prices set for restaurants, snack bars, Coke machines, rental cars, gift shops, barber shops, parking, aviation fuel, landing fees and shoe shines?
After all, the state last year successfully imposed a regional authority on Ashevilles seven-gate airport, which is exactly like Charlotte Douglas in that it, too, has a runway, Coke machines and chairs.
It is hard to disagree with the notion that the state has amazing expertise in the realm of transportation. It is a font of creative solutions to problems, like the excellent scheme to impose tolls on Lake Norman commuters for the next 50 years so the state doesnt have to improve I-77 like it does every other highway.
Taking a committee approach to managing Charlottes jetport can only yield long-term benefits. One thing we can expect is an immediate review on the long-standing policy of being one of the cheapest landing strips in the hemisphere.
While that has worked to a point 276,000 planes were drawn to our nest last year with 41 million passengers there is no question that with Raleighs influence we can choke gobs more from the airlines by jerking landing fees to the max.
Our authority members would certainly recognize the short-term returns on gouging chief tenant USAirmerican, or whatever it is going to be, rather than following the old price-point strategy that has merely doubled air traffic over the last two decades.
So there you are. I just dont know what to think. I can see both sides.
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