EDITORIAL: Airport vendors deserve a break

November 28, 2009

Concessionaires at Indianapolis International Airport, where passenger counts have tumbled 10 percent because of a slowdown in air travel, are asking the Airport Authority for relief from a policy that requires them to price their goods at a level consistent with what consumers pay at non-airport retailers. We agree the airport shops need a break.

We understand that allowing airport concessionaires to raise prices would burden consumers, who are also hurt by the economy. But relief from the airport’s so-called street-pricing policy is in order.

Airport retailers do have the advantage of dealing with a captive audience. But that’s where their advantage ends. Hours are long, getting workers and goods to the airport on a regular basis poses logistical problems, and the rent is almost double what retailers pay elsewhere.

The airport seeks to enhance the passenger experience by using locally known retailers who sell high-quality goods. And it wants those goods sold at street prices. Those goals are worthy, but accomplishing all three might not be practical.

The concessionaires and the Airport Authority are working through these issues, and the airport already has offered some relief by suspending through the end of the year a monthly fee retailers have to pay in addition to rent.

We hope the Airport Authority is serious in considering long-term relief as well. For example, retailers could be allowed to charge a certain percentage above street pricing, which would keep prices in check while providing enhanced revenue potential.

Ultimately, retailers at the airport must be given the opportunity to succeed. They don’t have to be there, after all. Elevated retail prices aren’t to be feared as much as empty airport storefronts.

Help an organization in need

Does your office have white copy paper to spare? An old conference room table with matching chairs? Maybe you’re about to replace the refrigerator in your break room. These items and many more, including some not typically found around the office, would mean the world to a local not-for-profit.

All these items are listed in our Holiday Wish List, a two-decade-old IBJ tradition that starts anew this week. The concept is simple. Not-for-profits need basic items they often can’t afford—some of the same items our readers could easily spare if they knew where to direct them.

The Wish List matches givers and recipients, and it will grow steadily between now and its final appearance this season Dec. 21.

Last year, Prevent Blindness Indiana wrote to thank us for two donations it received because of the Wish List. Those donations, a laptop computer and a phone system, allowed the not-for-profit to direct its resources to its primary mission: vision screenings and other programs intended to head off blindness.

Turn to page 33 to find out how you or your organization can participate. Even a small donation can mean a lot.•


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