By Sandra Arnoult
Airports Council International-North America is urging US lawmakers to fund airport infrastructure projects because they will help create jobs and promote economic growth.
“The improvement of airport infrastructure helps increase safety for the traveling public, is an investment in the future of our national transportation system and creates construction jobs today while paving the way for job creation in the future,” ACI-NA President Greg Principato wrote in a letter to members of the Congressional Jobs Now Caucus. “We ask that the Caucus consider additional airport infrastructure funding as you work on a new economic recovery package as one way to continue helping create jobs and hasten our country’s economic recovery.”
By June 2009, all but $5 million of the $1.1 billion appropriated under the Airport Improvement Program included in the American Reinvestments and Recovery Act had been authorized to 323 separate projects, according to FAA. Principato noted that while the aviation industry has felt the impact of the economic downturn, airports still must continue to maintain facilities to ensure passenger safety and security and prepare for capacity increases.
Congress is being asked to lift the federal cap on passenger facility charges to ease airport financial woes. The charge, now at $4.50 for each leg of the trip up to $18 per roundtrip, funds the building of runways, terminals and gates. Airports would like to see the charge increased to $7.50 and indexed to the inflationary cost of construction.
“All we’re trying to do is keep up with inflation,” Todd Hauptli of the American Assn. of Airport Executives told USA Today. He said the purchasing power of the PFC has fallen by about 50% since 2000. A bill in the House to reauthorize FAA proposes an increase to $7 a leg while a Senate committee has voted to retain the $4.50 cap.
Source: AIR TRANSPORT WORLD