A few rambling thoughts here:
Most US airports are owned and operated by a governmental agency, usually a city, county, or state.
Some are owned by a governmental agency, and the operation of which is contracted out to a private firm, IND
comes to mind (managed by BAA).
Some are owned by the governmental agency, and run by an airport authority (created by but separate from the agency), ICT
, PANYNJ are examples.
In all cases, airports have to follow FAA guidelines for operation, maintenance, capital projects, etc on the airport.
Privatizing airports is something that more and more airports have explored over the past 10 or 15 years. The thing to remember is that even though different types of organizations may own and operate different types of airports, those airports are still part of a bigger plan, a plan that is still beholding to the US government.
I'm not sure that opening up airport ownership and operation (or creating a 'fre market approach') would necessarily help solve airspace/congestion/capacity problems at airports. After all, we deregulated the airline industry, and look at some of the messes we have today (not that dereging the airlines was a bad thing, because it wasn't).
The primary benefit to privatizing airports (for the buyer) would be to create additional sources of revenue, primarily for capital improvements. The primary reason more airports are not privatized is that the agency that owns them does not want to sell what is to them a primary money-maker for the agency. ie, the City of New Orleans, which owns and operates MSY
, has a grand total of 2 departments throughout city government which usually show a profit, the Sewer and Water Department, and the airport. Think they'll give up one of those 2?
Tom at MSY
"The criminal ineptitude makes you furious"-Bruce Springsteen, after seeing firsthand the damage from Hurricane Katrina