responsibility of the national government. In these countries, the national government finances, operates, and maintains the airports. In the U.S., commercial airports have been independent of national control and have been operated locally by municipal or regional authorities. U.S. airports have tended to already be influenced by competitive private groups (usually airlines) that have led to more efficient operations.
Though complete privatization is not as common as in other countries, privatization of individual airport services has occurred extensively in the U.S. A survey by the General Accounting Office during the 1990’s found that 90% of the employees in the biggest 69 airports in the U.S. were employed by private companies. These employees conducted services such as ticketing, baggage handling, cleaning, concessions, and ground transportation. The 10% of the workers employed by the government were usually local and state government personnel performing administrative and public safety duties.
Examples of larger scale privatizations have occurred throughout the U.S. The Stewart Airport in New York is operated under a 30-year lease by the National Express bus company of Great Britain. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey contracted with a private group to finance, build, and operate the International Arrivals Building at Kennedy airport. BAA plc entered into an agreement with the Indianapolis Airport Authority to operate all of the airports under their supervision including Indianapolis International Airport.
In Illinois, the possibility of privatization is gaining momentum. During 2005-2006, the General Assembly passed the Local Government Facility Lease Act (Public Act 094-0750). The Act makes it easier for the City of Chicago to lease Midway Airport, along with some city-owned parking garages, and garbage transfer stations to private operators. The Act keeps land beneath these facilities tax-exempt for the life of any lease.
Other Assets and Services
As stated previously, almost any asset or service provided by the public can be privatized. This section will briefly highlight some of the other areas that could be potentially privatized. These additional assets and services include 1) Rail and Bus Service, 2) Buildings, 3) Educational Services, and 4) Medical Services.
Rail and Bus Service
Rail and bus service that is provided by mass transit districts could be privatized. Under general law, local mass transit districts may be created to operate, maintain, or subsidize transit services through ordinance or resolution of one or more municipalities, counties, or any combination thereof. Examples of mass transit districts include the Metro East Mass Transit District, the Chicago Transit Authority, and the Springfield Mass Transit District.
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