I. Introduction

For many different reasons, government tends to be involved in functions which could be performed by the private sector. If the private sector can perform the function as well as or better than government, the private sector should be allowed to perform the function.

A case in point is airports. All major commercial airports in the United States are owned by local, state or regional units of government. This is more the result of tradition than any proven ability of government to do the job better than private operators.

As public demand for air travel increases, airlines are responding with expanded services. More airline service requires more airport capacity for aircraft to land and load passengers. Unfortunately, a large bottleneck in the expansion of air travel has been the inability of airports to keep up with the demands of the industry.

This report examines the traditions which have resulted in government ownership of airports and challenges those traditions. The report will examine the privatization of the major airports of Great Britain offering this mode! to demonstrate the potential for privatization in the United States. It will describe the operations of Detroit Metropolitan Airport and explain how Metro might be privatized.

The report will list the advantages of privatization to taxpayers, airline passengers and airlines. Finally, potential roadblocks to privatization will be explained and solutions to these problems suggested.

While this report uses Detroit Metropolitan Airport as its case study, many of the arguments raised are applicable to other major U.S. airports.