In his first major decision as US secretary of transportation, Rodney Slater has overturned a controversial ruling on the financing of a new terminal at Miami, which would have set a precedent on the raising and use of airport funds.

Slater's action reverses a March decision by a Department of Transportation judge, who had ruled it was unfair for the cost of a $1 billion terminal project to be included in the airport fees when that terminal was for the exclusive use of American Airlines.

Six airlines - Air Canada, Delta Air Lines, Lufthansa, Trans World Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways - initiated the investigation by protesting that rises in the airport fees were unfair.

Slater disagrees and says the fees are reasonable and that the airport is allocating the cost of new or expanded terminal facilities built for use by other airlines in the same manner. Slater also says the judge ignored evidence that several other airports, including Pittsburgh and Chicago/ O'Hare, have charged all airlines for the cost of new facilities for an airline with hub operations at those airports.

Slater's decision is welcomed by the Airports Council International - North America, which was concerned that the judge's decision set a precedent that would undo the fee methodologies of airports across the US. 'The precedent would have been horrific,' agrees James Burnley, counsel for American. But the dispute could still drag on. The plaintiffs had until mid-May to appeal Slater's decision, while another action is pending before a Miami federal judge in which the six airlines claim the terminal cannot be built without their consent.


Source: Airline Business