Airport Parking On and Off


Airport Parking On and Off

I know I sound like a broken record, but this really frosts my buns. The recent decision by the city councils in Dallas and Ft Worth to tax the off airport operators at DFW just brings it up again. This isn’t the only place, airports are learning to tap this resource everywhere.

Airports are in the airplane business.  Parking Operators are in the parking business. However, airports have found that they can make big bucks in the parking business.  So be it.

However, they have also found that unlike the airplane business, they have competition in the parking business.  Off airport parking companies build garages, pave lots, buy shuttles, and compete. Its the American Way.  Competition does two things, it makes the product better, and keeps prices down. The free market works every time.

But the airports feel like they affect the free market by taxing the off airport operators. That tax means that the off airport guys have an expense built in to their costs that the airports don’t. And since the airports control that tax, well…..

Most of the time taxes are there to ostensibly either pay for a service provided by the taxing agency (property tax pays for streets and schools, for instance) or as a fine for not following rules that are put there to protect the citizenry (running a red light).  In this case, I can’t for the life of me figure out what service the airport is providing for the tax.

They might say that the off airport operator wouldn’t exist if the airports weren’t there, but then neither would Boeing, or the surrounding hotels, restaurants, filling stations…the list goes on and on. There would be no need for weather services, or security, or a gardeners, or landing system manufacturers. Are they taxed?  Maybe not yet but are they next.

I see off airport operators as entrepreneurs that saw a need and filled it. The airports simply don’t have enough on airport parking. They also charge a lot to park in the spaces they have. Enter Off airport parking. They charge less, typically offer creative services, and fill the need that the airport can’t fill.

It is a symbiotic relationship. The off airport operator isn’t a parasite, but provides a necessary service to the airport. They help take traffic away, provide parking the airport can’t, and offer a service that the airport either can’t or don’t wish to offer. If they all went away tomorrow, what would the airport do with all the cars?  It would be chaos.

I just don’t understand why governmental agencies can’t leave well enough alone. If they can tax, they will.  The power to tax is the power to destroy. Airports should use it judiciously.


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John Van Horn

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