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Airports Responding to Public Health Emergencies: Legal Considerations (2023)

Chapter: ACRP LRD 44: Airports Responding to Public Health Emergencies: Legal Considerations

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Suggested Citation:"ACRP LRD 44: Airports Responding to Public Health Emergencies: Legal Considerations." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Airports Responding to Public Health Emergencies: Legal Considerations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26945.
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Background ere are over 4,000 airports in the country and most of these airports are owned by governments. A 2003 sur- vey conducted by Airports Council International–North America concluded that city ownership accounts for 38 percent, followed by regional airports at 25 percent, single county at 17 percent, and multi-jurisdictional at 9 percent. Primary legal services to these airports are, in most cases, provided by municipal, county, and state attorneys. Research reports and summaries produced by the Airport Continuing Legal Studies Project and published as ACRP Legal Research Digests are developed to assist these attorneys seeking to deal with the myriad of legal problems encountered during airport development and operations. Such substantive areas as eminent domain, environmental concerns, leasing, contracting, security, insurance, civil rights, and tort liability present cutting- edge legal issues where research is useful and indeed needed. Airport legal research, when conducted through the TRB’s legal studies process, either collects primary data that usually are not available elsewhere or performs analysis of existing literature. Foreword Published in 2018, ACRP LRD 34: Airport Public Health Preparedness and Response: Legal Rights, Powers, and Duties addressed the legal issues concerning measures to detect communicable diseases, regulations to control communicable diseases, methods for decontamination, emergency legal preparedness, privacy, and potential sources of liability. e digest included legal analysis of authorities and strategies for navigating the system of public health governance to help airports respond eec- tively to future pandemics. No one could have known when ACRP LRD 34 was published that the issues in that digest would become so signicant to the airport industry only 2 years later. is digest updates ACRP LRD 34 based on lessons learned from COVID-19. It is designed as a tool for air- port attorneys and practitioners to use to prepare, plan, and coordinate with their stakeholders in response to a threat of communicable disease. e lessons learned include key practical and legal considerations to navigate the public health governance and signicant chal- lenges, and eective transitions by airports to the new reality that pandemics may not be once-in-a-century phenomena. e digest includes recommended actions and strategies to eectively navigate pandemic response in light of federalism and the unique legal and regulatory constraints on airports within the national air transpor- tation system. Airports Responding to Public Health Emergencies: Legal Considerations This digest was prepared under ACRP Project 11-01, “Legal Aspects of Airport Programs,” for which the Transportation Research Board (TRB) is the agency coordinating the research. Under Topic 14-01, this digest was prepared by Peter J. Kirsch and Adam E. Gerchick, Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell LLP, Washington, DC; and Terry Kagler and Michael Spitzer, RS&H, Inc., Jacksonville, FL. The opinions and conclusions expressed or implied in this digest are those of the researchers who performed the research and are not necessarily those of the Transportation Research Board; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; or the program sponsors. The senior program officer is Jordan Christensen. The information in this digest is current as of September 2022. AIRPORT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM Sponsored by the Federal Aviat ion Administrat ion ACRP LRD44 LEGAL RESEARCH DIGEST APRIL 2023 APRIL 2023

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The collapse in U.S. air traffic during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic illustrates the speed with which a severe public health emergency can devastate the air travel industry. It further illustrates how quickly an airport operator may have to react to a public health crisis.

The TRB Airport Cooperative Research Program's ACRP Legal Research Digest 44: Airports Responding to Public Health Emergencies: Legal Considerations is designed to help airport sponsors and other stakeholders in the airport industry consider potential legal questions that they could confront as they address a future public health emergency.


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