Airport Ground Transportation Regulation

Some bus, limo, taxicab, and near airport parking groups are seeking legislation that could open the door to federal intervention in and regulation of the management of ground transportation rates and access at airports, which are inherently local responsibilities.  

The curbside space in front of passenger terminal buildings is one of an airport’s most limited and highly valued resources. Airport sponsors carefully manage this resource to ensure quality ground transportation services are available to their customers, to generate revenue to pay for airport facilities and operations, and to control air pollution. 

Proposals to impose new federal regulatory constraints on airport ground access policies could disrupt this balance, snarl vehicle traffic in and around airport terminals, and increase airfares. If enacted into law, an unworkable one-size-fits-all approach from Washington would lead to more federal interference at local airports at a time when the administration and many in Congress are rightfully taking action to eliminate unnecessary federal regulations and reduce red tape.

Ground transportation groups were unable to convince lawmakers to adopt their proposals as part of the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill that Congress passed in late 2018.  They do, however, continue to press for federal legislative action to address concerns that they have not been able to see addressed at the local level.  


During consideration of FAA reauthorization legislation in the previous Congress, ground transportation groups and their allies on Capitol Hill came up with two legislative proposals to address their concerns.  First, Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) proposed an amendment that called for DOT to impose new regulatory constraints on airport proprietors’ ability to manage fees and the curbside space in front of their terminal buildings.  

Espaillat’s amendment would have required the agency to issue regulations to ensure that airports provide “equal rates” and “equal access” to all forms of ground transportation.  Later in the year, ground transportation groups unveiled a separate proposal that called for the U.S. Department of Transportation to establish a working group to examine their complaints and come up with a set of recommendations for the agency to implement.  

AAAE and airports across the country urged Congress to reject both proposals.  We argued that responsibility over ground transportation fees and access should continue to reside with individual airports and local communities – not the federal government.  To help make our case, we put together a two-page document that expresses our strong opposition to the working group proposal and a broader whitepaper that explains why the federal government should not interfere on airport ground transportation matters.  

We successfully convinced Congress to reject the two ground transportation proposals.  The final FAA bill that the President enacted into law late in 2018 did not include either the working group amendment or the more aggressive approach that called for DOT to regulate ground transportation access and fees.  Although the FAA bill is behind us, we expect ground transportation providers will be back at it in 2020 and will likely urge lawmakers to take action when they consider a possible infrastructure bill or other transporation-related bills. 

AAAE Views

AAAE and airports around country strongly oppose the ground transportation industry’s proposals to create an entirely new federal regulatory scheme on what is fundamentally, and necessarily, a local imperative.  Responsibility over ground transportation fees and access should continue to reside with individual airports and local communities – not shifted to a federal agency ill-equipped to know the intricate and unique ground transportation services at every individual airport.

Related Information

• A white paper on ground access regulations may be viewed here.

• Background information on specific legislative proposals related to ground access may be viewed here.

• Rep. Espaillat’s amendment may be viewed here.

• The amendment calling for a DOT working group may be viewed here.


Brad Van Dam
Senior Vice President, Government Affairs
(703) 797-2534

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