Price regulation of airports: principles with Australian applications
This paper analyses the various issues that are likely to arise with price regulation of privately owned airports. It begins with a brief background on Australian airports, and a review of regulatory experience elsewhere. Issues which can create problems for price regulation include congestion, noise and other externalities, quality degradation and underinvestment, and the choice of the initial price level. Price regulation limits the use of prices as rationing devices where congestion is present. Efficient handling of congestion can be reconciled with price caps if the regulator determines the appropriate congestion/capacity trade off, and supervises allocation of slots, e.g. through auctions or creating a market for slots. Noise externalities can be handled through noise charges set by a regulator who may also be called upon to resolve capacity/noise trade offs. Resolving the problem of quality degradation and underinvestment is inherently difficult, and may need to involve active participation in investment decisions by the regulator and airlines. The difficulties of setting initial price levels arise from conflicts in ensuring that existing assets are utilised efficiently, and that prices give efficient signals for future investment. Regulatory design issues, dealing with whether pure price caps or mixed regulatory rules are superior, are examined in the airport context. The paper concludes with a brief examination of the price regulatory regime as announced by the Australian government.
Volume (Year): 33 (1997)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
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