Transportation Secretary Pushes for FAA to Continue Airport Funding
July 29, 2009
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  • Robert J. McCarthy

    March 4, 2008

    Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters says Congress’ failure to act puts greater burdens on airport operators.

    Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters couldn’t help but marvel at the physical and financial successes of Buffalo Niagara International Airport during a visit to the

    Cheektowaga facility Monday.

    But all that progress, she went out of her way to emphasize, could be put in jeopardy unless Congress acts soon to reauthorize funding for a host of Federal Aviation Administration programs.

    “Because Congress has failed to pass full-year authorization for the grant program that supports airport expansion and runway safety projects, this airport is facing a 25 percent cut in funding,” she said. “That means the airport will have to shoulder a greater share of the fiscal burden of their planned de-icing project and will have a more difficult time financing other vital initiatives.”

    Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds, R-Clarence, was the Arizona native’s host for the tour that included a soon-to-be-upgraded baggage-handling facility as well as a review of $3 million plans to expand and improve security checkpoints. Both emphasized the need for Congress to reauthorize FAA funding and pointed to other improvements that will make air travel easier at Buffalo Niagara.

    Topping the list, efforts are under way to relieve congestion and delays at the New York City airports, the No. 1 destination for travelers using the Cheektowaga airport. Last year, one of three flights leaving Buffalo Niagara for New York was delayed, Peters noted.

    “These delays are more than a nuisance. They are a threat to the success of airports like this and to communities like Buffalo,” she said. “Flight delays waste time, deny travel opportunities and hurt economic growth.”

    She pointed to Bush administration measures, to take effect March 15, that cap the number of flights per hour at both John F. Kennedy and Newark Liberty airports.

    “These hourly limits will actually cut delays by spreading out flight schedules based on the actual capacity of the airports,” Peters said. “And they will allow airlines to run as many as 50 more flights per day than they were able to operate last year. That means Buffalo area fliers could have even more flight options to get to New York City in the future.”

    Peters joined Reynolds in praising the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, which operates the airport and which last year reached its 2020 goals for number of passengers.

    Reynolds said he wanted Peters to personally see the airport’s progress and its potential as a facility that could relieve congestion at the nearby major airports in New York City and Toronto.

    “This is a great success story of Western New York,” Reynolds said.

    Date: 2008-03-04