EDITORIAL: Airport vendors deserve a break

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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.

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