Tom Keene Talks to Airline Economist Clifford Winston

Tom talks with Clifford Winston, airline economist at the Brookings Institution, about airports, mergers, and infrastructure

Are there enough airports out there?
That’s not so much the issue. It is access to particular airports. Delta’s interest in acquiring a stake in Virgin Atlantic is to get access to Heathrow.
When you get on a domestic U.S. airline, what do you think?
I think they’ve got a very tough job. But I’m not going to make it any easier for them by giving them subsidies. More than anything else I would like the infrastructure, including the airports and air traffic control they use, to be much more efficient than it is.
Where are we on infrastructure investment in this country?
The problem in the U.S. is not money per se. There is just an awful lot of waste, money going where it shouldn’t and money not going where it should. We appear to have an infrastructure crisis, but I think it’s really just a management crisis in the public sector.
Could we build an interstate highway today?
No. I really do not think that there’s hope for an efficient, even reasonable, infrastructure program in the public sector. I think it’s just become too politically fractious. I just think it’s hopeless, and it’s been going on for too long. That’s why I am increasingly pushing for experiments that involve privatization, and I don’t mean public-private partnerships. I really mean privatization. I would like to explore the private sector really running this.

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