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FAA Docket for December 22, 2014

December 22, 2014 2:34 PM Pacific Time


Applications and Petitions:

United v PANYNJ - Part 16 Complaint of United

Answers and Replies:

None

Orders and Notices:

None

Rules and Regulations:

None

Grant of Petitions:

None




United Airlines, Inc. v The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

FAA-16-14-13

December 10, 2014

Complaint of United Airlines - Bookmarked

Under federal law, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is required to operate Newark Liberty International Airport "for the use and benefit of the public, on fair and reasonable terms, and without unjust discrimination." In fact, however, the Port Authority operates EWR for its own benefit, contrary to the interests of the traveling public and the aeronautical users of the airport, imposing excessive, unreasonable, and discriminatory charges to generate huge surpluses that are siphoned off to non-aeronautical operations.

In this Complaint under Part 16 of the Federal Aviation Regulations, made pursuant to 14 CFR §§ 16.1, et seq., United Airlines, Inc. requests that the Federal Aviation Administration institute an investigation under 14 CFR § 16.29 into the failure of the Port Authority to comply with its federal grant assurances and other statutory obligations2 relating to airport fees and other actions at EWR.

Specifically, such an investigation is necessary because the Port Authority, as the operator of EWR:

charges aeronautical users, including United, exorbitant and unreasonable rates;

uses a fee methodology that is not cost-based and lacks transparency;

fails to make EWR available on reasonable terms;

generates excessive surplus revenues in order to subsidize nonaeronautical functions;

improperly diverts airport revenue; and

unjustly discriminates among aeronautical users

in violation of the Airport and Airway Improvement Act; the Anti-Head Tax Act; FAA, Policy Regarding Airport Rates and Charges; the Sponsor Assurances; the Airline Deregulation Act; and FAA, Policy and Procedures Concerning the Use of Airport Revenue.

The Port Authority's motivation to charge excessive rates is evident: EWR generates huge surplus revenues above its reasonable costs, which the Port Authority then uses to subsidize its other vast and loss-making non-aeronautical operations. Since 2004, the Port Authority has diverted more than $2 billion from the New York area airports to non-airport uses. Instead of functioning in accordance with its Sponsor Assurances and as a prudent airport proprietor that charges users only what is necessary to cover its aeronautical costs, the Port Authority systematically generates excessive surpluses at EWR through unreasonable fees, and then diverts airport revenues on a massive scale. The Port Authority's limited legal ability to divert airport revenue does not, however, give it carte blanche to make airlines pay for its non-airport projects with excessive and unreasonable fees. United and other airlines at EWR, and ultimately the traveling public, pay the price to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

Counsel: Crowell & Moring, Keith Harrison, 202-624-2500 and Steinbrecher & Span, Robert Span, 202-559-8680

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