The consolidation of the U.S. airline industry as well as the rise of several different business models among air carriers has fundamentally changed the nature of competition among air carriers at airports, resulting in more and more airports having a dominant carrier. In addition, fixed-base operators are consolidating at many airport locations and competition among these service providers has been significantly altered or eliminated. Airport operators have an obligation under their federal grant assurances to provide access to air carriers, and certain categories of airports must develop competition plans. Airports also must not grant exclusive rights to aeronautical service providers.
The objective of this research is to develop guidance for airport lawyers, management, and staff regarding the legally permissible means and methods of encouraging and accommodating competition at U.S. airports among air carriers and fixed-base operators. The research will address the legal issues concerning the following topics, without limitation: the concentration of the air carriers and fixed-base operators, the accommodation of air carriers with differing business models, and avoiding the grant of exclusive rights when aeronautical service providers combine.