From the comments on this post: there’s a vigorous debate going on about whether some form of congestion would really reduce delays, given that flight schedules (for business travelers at rush or for international flights connecting to overseas hub banks at planned times) are not easily adjusted. But there’s another point I want to bring up: the airline lobby has decried the FAA’s proposed regulation, arguing that congestion pricing “does nothing to fix the primary cause of delays – our nation’s increasingly antiquated air traffic control system.” Molly Feltner at SmarterTravel.com editorializes further: “The government is basically buying time so it can delay the daunting and hugely expensive task of implementing a new air traffic control system.”
Both responses to the regulation proposal are disingenuous. We all know that thanks to the FAA’s incompetence/underfunding/”rebenchmarking” (or whatever else you think of the FAA), the full implementation of the NextGen slate of technologies is years off. (Not that NextGen will be panacea, but it will help.) Neither the ATA for Feltner acknowledge what we’re going to do in the mean time–between now and not yet. Demand for air travel continues to increase, and we want to avoid summer delays like we saw this year. There has got to be an interim strategy. If you think congestion pricing isn’t the answer, you need to offer viable alternatives. We’re waiting.