A Study of the Port of New York Authority

By Frederick L. Bird | Go to book overview

Chapter fourteen
ESTIMATING AIR TERMINAL REVENUES

IN THE: PLANNING and development of its air terminal program, the Port Authority is helping to determine a national financial policy for terminal airports. This is important, because the development of more adequate airports will be expedited if there can be evolved a clear, basic policy which will define and apportion the fiscal responsibilities of the public and private interests concerned with these essential components of the air transportation system. Since national security, as well as commercial progress, is involved, more and better air terminals are needed without delay. But the acquisition of modern terminals is so costly as to tax the fiscal capacity of local governments unless such facilities can be placed on a self-sustaining basis to the extent that they serve purposes other than national defense.

The implications of possible inability to make municipally owned terminal airports self-supporting deserve some consideration. Gill Robb Wilson, author of the famous column, "The Air World," in the New York Herald Tribune, summarizes one of them incisively in the statement that ". . . in the permanent economy of air commerce the airport must be made to stand as a self- supporting unit. Unless ways are found to accomplish this, it is certain that municipal governments ultimately will withdraw from the airport picture. The result will be nationalization of airports as well as airways. This would be the next to the last step in nationalization of the airlines themselves."1

Placing terminal airports on a self-supporting basis does not mean abandonment, or even extensive curtailment, of public aid to commercial aviation. Adherence to such a policy would not affect the federal government's expensive responsibility for air traffic control or its granting of mail subsidies. Neither private users nor local gov

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1
"New York Herald Tribune," June 11, 1948.

-143-

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