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Congestion at airports: the economics of airport expansions

Author

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  • Jeffrey P. Cohen
  • Cletus C. Coughlin

Abstract

Congestion and subsequent delays have been prevalent in many U.S. airports in recent years. A common response to congestion, championed by many community leaders, is to expand capacity by constructing new runways and terminals. Airport expansions are costly, complex, and controversial. We begin by using basic economic theory to analyze congestion at those airports that are part of an air transportation system. Next, we describe how benefit-cost analysis is used to assess the desirability of airport expansions. Many of the key points are illustrated in the context of Lambert–St. Louis International Airport. We also examine two especially controversial aspects of expansions—the displacement of people and businesses and the effects of airport noise. Finally, we discuss congestion-based pricing of landing fees as an alternative to airport expansions.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey P. Cohen & Cletus C. Coughlin, 2003. "Congestion at airports: the economics of airport expansions," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 9-26.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlrv:y:2003:i:may:p:9-26:n:v.85no.3
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Aschauer, David Alan, 1989. "Is public expenditure productive?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 177-200, March.
    2. Barro, Robert J, 1990. "Government Spending in a Simple Model of Endogenous Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 103-126, October.
    3. Elizabeth E. Bailey, 2002. "Aviation Policy: Past and Present," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 12-20, July.
    4. Baumol,William J. & Oates,Wallace E., 1988. "The Theory of Environmental Policy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521322249, April.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Jeffrey P. Cohen & Cletus C. Coughlin & Lesli S. Ott, 2009. "Auctions as a vehicle to reduce airport delays and achieve value capture," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Nov, pages 569-588.
    2. Santos, Miguel Gueifão & Antunes, António Pais, 2015. "Long-term evolution of airport networks: Optimization model and its application to the United States," Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 17-46.
    3. Dieter Bogai & Mirko Wesling, 2011. "Beschäftigungseffekte von Großflughäfen: Eine kritische Bestandsaufnahme," Review of Regional Research: Jahrbuch für Regionalwissenschaft, Springer;Gesellschaft für Regionalforschung (GfR), vol. 31(1), pages 75-91, June.
    4. Cohen, Jeffrey P. & Morrison Paul, Catherine J., 2003. "Airport infrastructure spillovers in a network system," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 459-473, November.

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    Keywords

    Airports ; Economic development;

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