Logan Airport Capital Projects

Brattle Loop

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In your first paragraph you imply that lifting the limit would make flying more expensive, but in your second you say that you'd expect prices to go down and airport conditions to degrade. Which one is it? Airports are free today to charge an amount below the $4.50 per passenger cap, but practically none do. That's because airports need money to build and maintain and operate themselves, and to stay competitive. And they've been limited as to how much they can charge, with inflation adjustment, for over 20 years.
I said that airport operators would have incentives to run their facilities on the cheap to keep the fees down, not that prices would go down. Theoretically they could (as facilities declined in quality; you get what you pay for) but I was not assuming that customers would see lower prices from reduced facility fees, only that they would see lower quality facilities. I think it more likely that the airlines would simply pocket the difference (unless this change were accompanied by regulation fostering greater competition among carriers) or that they would not serve subpar facilities, requiring the airport operators to invest in better facilities on the back of higher fees which the airlines would then happily pass on to their customers. Either way, I think it'd be the passengers who got screwed (because that's usually how these things go).
 

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Airports are effectively little monopolies—it’s why airline fortress hubs work at only 60% of an airport—the airport itself has anti-consumer market power


Unless there was active competition from Hanscom AND true High Speed Rail, I don’t see how uncapped fees at BOS would be traveler-friendly / utility maximizing
 

JumboBuc

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Airports are effectively little monopolies—it’s why airline fortress hubs work at only 60% of an airport—the airport itself has anti-consumer market power


Unless there was active competition from Hanscom AND true High Speed Rail, I don’t see how uncapped fees at BOS would be traveler-friendly / utility maximizing
Why is the government writing these “little monopolies” checks and subsidizing their operations? Allow them to charge users more to cover their costs.

A debate can be had on whether the passenger facility charge should be totally uncapped or have its cap increased in steps. If you want to treat airports like regulated utilities (which are even cleaner examples of “natural monopolies”) then have a regulatory framework which includes regular reviews of rate setting to ensure revenues cover costs and allow for some profit without price gouging consumers with nowhere else to turn. But enforcing the same low price cap unadjusted for inflation for 20+ years and then complaining about poor conditions and spending government money to address them makes zero sense.

There absolutely are significant anti-competitive elements in the aviation industry (which is a topic for a whole ‘nother thread) and those should be taken on via a regulatory framework focused on increasing competition. Arbitrary price caps on random sensible and logical user fees is not that at all. Poor policy design and enforcement in one area (airline competition policy) should not be used as justification for poor policy design and enforcement in a totally different area (airport funding structures). Lots of very smart people devote their entire careers to studying the impacts of anti-competitive behavior in the aviation industry, and I’d bet that not one of them would say the issue is that the Federally-regulated passenger facility charge is too high.
 
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Equilibria

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Why is the government writing these “little monopolies” checks and subsidizing their operations? Allow them to charge users more to cover their costs.

A debate can be had on whether the passenger facility charge should be totally uncapped or have its cap increased in steps. If you want to treat airports like regulated utilities (which are even cleaner examples of “natural monopolies”) then have a regulatory framework that has regular reviews of rate setting to ensure revenues cover costs and allow for some profit without price gouging consumers with nowhere else to turn. But enforcing the same low price cap unadjusted for inflation for 20+ years and then complaining about poor conditions and spending government money to address them makes zero sense.

There absolutely are significant anti-competitive elements in the aviation industry and those should be taken on via a regulatory framework focused on increasing competition. Arbitrary price caps on random sensible and logical user fees is not that at all. Poor policy design and enforcement in one area (airline competition) should not be used as justification for poor policy design and enforcement in a totally different area (airport funding structures).
It's worth noting that PFCs are not the only way airports charge customers. They charge landing fees, gate rental fees, parking fees... those aren't capped, and some airports definitely lose out on business because they're perceived as being too expensive for airlines. Airlines pass fees from the airport along to the customer.
 

JumboBuc

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It's worth noting that PFCs are not the only way airports charge customers. They charge landing fees, gate rental fees, parking fees... those aren't capped, and some airports definitely lose out on business because they're perceived as being too expensive for airlines. Airlines pass fees from the airport along to the customer.
Yes, duly noted. And some of those policies (e.g., exclusive-use gate leases) have significant anti-competitive impacts that drive up airfares without better funding infrastructure (big airlines can buy up gates to force cheaper competitors out of the market).

User charges that directly fund airport infrastructure are more efficient and pro-competitive than those that airlines bear and can use to force out / exclude entrants. A once-daily flight from a low cost airline serving a new city may be good for consumers, but financially infeasible if there are high upfront costs from the airport to that airline. Shifting the cost structure more to a per-passenger basis pulls down these barriers to entry. The simpler, more transparent, and more open the funding structure is, the better it is for competition. It's worth noting that airports are consistently in favor of increasing the PFC cap while established airlines are consistently against it (they like airport funding structures the way they are). One can make of that what one will...

Weighing the merits of these different funding structures and thinking through their impacts and ramifications on the structure of the industry is what regulators should be doing. Not capping the most sensible fees at arbitrary levels in the name of "the consumer." (And I don't mean to imply that I'm smarter or better than the regulators. Regulators get it but have their hands tied by politicians.)
 
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Arlington

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Why is the government writing these “little monopolies” checks and subsidizing their operations? Allow them to charge users more to cover their costs.
The other part of Utility Regulation is whether the facilities are really NEEDED rather than like Robert Moses' TBTA always building the next megaproject rather than reducing tolls on the earlier projects. You'd regulate both their cost and their capacity and stop them from building too grandly before you'd allow them to claim that ever-grander terminals are "just part of the cost of doing business" (rather than empire building by the Authority)
 

Equilibria

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(rather than empire building by the Authority)
Less empire building by the Authority than prestige building by the nation. Utilitarian airports in the US are an international embarrassment. They don't need to be like the Gulf or China, but they need to be spacious, airy, bright, clean, comfortable, and efficient.

Massport actually achieves this pretty well at a limited spend, IMO. Just need to clean-sheet the C piers.
 

stellarfun

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Suffolk Construction op ed outlines the three pots of money for aviation in the infrastructure bill.

https://www.news-press.com/story/op...d-struggling-airports-sam-sleiman/5893723001/

Federal aviation subsidies are probably the least of the worries of those who prepare transportation budgets. High, if not highest on the list, is how to get monies into the highway trust fund as gasoline consumption declines. Electric-powered vehicles pay zilch into the fund.
 

mass88

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Less empire building by the Authority than prestige building by the nation. Utilitarian airports in the US are an international embarrassment. They don't need to be like the Gulf or China, but they need to be spacious, airy, bright, clean, comfortable, and efficient.

Massport actually achieves this pretty well at a limited spend, IMO. Just need to clean-sheet the C piers.
That would be nice to see.
 

Stlin

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“Four years after Massport spent millions to accommodate A380s, the gigantic planes don’t fly here — and might not ever again”



https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/11...fly-here-might-not-ever-again/?outputType=amp
That article is a bit... thin on detail and big on outrage. The 2 bridges may not be strictly necessary for single level jets, unlike the a380, but honestly it's still useful for all the 777s / a350s. 2 door boarding for international widebodies is pretty standard these days for new build terminals and gates. Board doors L1 for First/Business, L2/3 for economy; sometimes there's even a 3rd for the upper deck.

Besides, 20m as part of a 100m improvements project isn't actually a particularly ludicrous sum.
 
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Brattle Loop

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That article is a bit... thin on detail and big on outrage. The 2 bridges may not be strictly necessary for single level jets, unlike the a380, but honestly it's still useful for all the 777s / a350s. 2 door boarding for international widebodies is pretty standard these days for new build terminals and gates. Board doors L1 for First/Business, L2/3 for economy; sometimes there's even a 3rd for the upper deck.

Besides, 20m as part of a 100m improvements project isn't actually a particularly ludicrous sum.
I thought I remembered reading at one point that the secondary jetbridges at the A380 gates couldn't serve the main decks of single-level planes, which would be a deeply irritating oversight if that's the case and not just a half-remembered rumor that never amounted to anything. (Someone else on here may well know the answer to that one, hopefully.)

I find it particularly...odd...that the pandemic is treated as so much of an afterthought in that article. Emirates and British Airways both operated A380s into Logan - albeit seasonally - until the pandemic destroyed the international air travel market. As I recall BA had scheduled the A380 as standard for the summer season for 2020 before the pandemic rendered that a non-option.

Given the pre-existing issues with the A380 and particularly the fact that they were some degree of white elephant for most of their operators who weren't Emirates (or, sort of, BA), which the article does address, it is legitimate to critique the decision to build the A380 gates (especially if their second bridges can only be used for A380s), but the fact remains that they were used by two of the three airlines who were the intended user of those gates (Lufthansa being the one that never sent them here) until the pandemic. Unless the Globe is trying to argue that Massport should have assumed that there would be a pandemic crippling global air travel in the near future when planning their capital projects (which would be insane) then it's frankly ridiculous to print an article with that much criticism while putting that little emphasis on the actual happening that caused the A380s to get pulled from using those gates.

Someone should also mention to the Globe that, in case they weren't aware, those gates can still be used by, you know, planes. They do know that...right?
 

Stlin

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I thought I remembered reading at one point that the secondary jetbridges at the A380 gates couldn't serve the main decks of single-level planes, which would be a deeply irritating oversight if that's the case and not just a half-remembered rumor that never amounted to anything. (Someone else on here may well know the answer to that one, hopefully.)
You know... I'd forgotten about that, since I usually don't fly internationally direct out of Logan and haven't generally for the past 2 years. You're right that the upper bridge can't come down to the main deck level of a 777; the original plan was for 3 jet bridges, 2 main and 1 upper before massport got cheap, with that upper bridge connecting directly to the lounge level. Thankfully the piers are built for the 2 on main, so it's just a matter of modding and moving the bridges.
 

BeyondRevenue

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Air travel as Fung Wah bus. In a fully de-regulated world it’s not too surprising to see that endpoint.

Airlines, given their way, would prefer to strip passengers naked, dope them up on Xanax, and pack them in like cargo.
Honestly, as long as they knock me out first at curbside, I won’t have to deal with the variety of lines for bag check, security theater, food pellets, quasi-drugs (liquor), ticket scanning, seat loading, followed by the elbow joust and increasingly present anti-vax tantrum delay. Then sitting prone through de-icing, and 6 hours of vomit charging bumping and jostling to risk a stroke causing thrombosis. Nope. hate it all.
Knock me out, put me in a box, revive me in San Francisco. Why this means of travel doesn’t exist is beyond me.
 

mass88

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Good chance British Airways brings the 380 back to Boston.

At the least, it would be nice if they could refit E10-12 so you can have dual loadings on 77W/789/350, etc. Leave one gate with the higher bridge to accommodate 380 diversions.

You have to figure that most of the planes will be phased out of fleets come 2028-2030. It was a failure by Airbus.
 

Brattle Loop

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Good chance British Airways brings the 380 back to Boston.

At the least, it would be nice if they could refit E10-12 so you can have dual loadings on 77W/789/350, etc. Leave one gate with the higher bridge to accommodate 380 diversions.

You have to figure that most of the planes will be phased out of fleets come 2028-2030. It was a failure by Airbus.
Yeah, even without the pandemic the A380 was going to be stuck as a niche product. Covid really only accelerated its demise. It was short-sighted of Massport not to build the gates for dual-bridge main-deck loading to begin with, though if they end up modifying them to have that capacity, that'd salvage most of the investment. (Though several seasons' worth of A380s, and probably more to come from BA isn't anything to sneer at, and they were definitely useful for those flights.)
 

Equilibria

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Thankfully the piers are built for the 2 on main, so it's just a matter of modding and moving the bridges.
Doesn't that resolve the whole issue? It won't be free, but they'll have gotten a decade of A380 service out of the current arrangement.
 

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