By Greg Principato, ACI-NA
Congress took several important steps this week to get us closer than we’ve been in three years to passage of a multi-year FAA Reauthorization bill. I was particularly pleased that House members, during their debate, recognized the FAA bill for the jobs bill it is. The increased authorization for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) and the ceiling increase for the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) from $4.50 to $7.00 in the House bill will create thousands of jobs immediately through construction in local communities across the country while making long-term safety improvements and capacity enhancements in our national air transportation system.
These improvements will help communities attract and retain business and ensure the efficient movement of people and goods through our aviation system which is vital to ensuring growth in the national economy.
ACI-NA President Greg Principato applauded the second stage air transportation agreement initialed by the United States and European Union in Brussels today. ACI-NA participated actively in the second stage negotiations on behalf of its airport members.
“The second stage agreement builds and improves on the ground-breaking first stage air transport agreement reached in 2007”, said Principato. That agreement, signed in April 2007, allowed airlines in the United States and the EU to provide passenger and cargo service without limitations on the number of flights or destinations. “ACI-NA welcomes the improved regulatory cooperation on security, safety, competition, environment, air traffic management, facilitation and other issues, enhanced liberalization, and strengthening of the U.S./EU aviation relationship and market promoted by the second stage agreement. These improvements will benefit passengers, our airport members and their communities.”
ACI-NA commends the U.S. and EU government officials of their respective delegations for their tireless efforts during eight rounds of negotiations to secure this important second stage agreement.
The House passed HR 4849, the Small Business and Infrastructure Jobs Tax Act of 2010 today. This includes a provision extending the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) relief for private activity bonds (PABs) provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) through 2011. The provision—included by Congressman Richard Neal (D-MA) during the Ways and Means Committee drafting of the bill —also extends the refinancing provision found in ARRA for PABs issued between 2004 and 2008 to be refinanced through 2011.
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Airports Council International-North America President Greg Principato applauded the Senate for passage of its version of the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill.
“This is an important step in securing full authorization and moving us forward in obtaining the NextGen air transportation system, enhancing passenger rights and airline safety, and providing resources for improving our nation’s airport infrastructure which creates jobs.
The current authorization extension runs through March 31, 2010. If an authorization bill does not pass before then, another short-term extension will be needed. To prepare for this, the House recently passed H.R. 4851 which will extend FAA authorization through July 3, 2010.
“We are pleased that Congress is breaking out of its cycle of three months extensions that have been ongoing since 2007. We look forward to the House and Senate resolving their differences and hope that a final bill will be passed quickly,” said Principato.
By Annie Russo
Thanks to a provision included by Congressman Richard Neal (D-MA) in H.R. 4849, the Small Business and Infrastructure Jobs Tax Act of 2010, the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) exemption on private activity bonds (PABs) has gained traction on the Hill. H.R. 4849 includes an extension of the provision in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) that exempts PABs from the AMT through 2011. The provision also extends the refinancing provision found in ARRA for PABs issued between 2004 and 2008 to be refinanced through 2011.
During the markup of H.R. 4849 by the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday, several Members spoke about the positive impact the provision has had on their local airports as it is helping stimulate economic growth and creating jobs in their communities. Airports have been a shining example of how this provision has made a significant difference in the bond market with airports selling almost $10 billion in bonds since the passage of ARRA. What a contrast to the second half of 2008 when the market was virtually frozen, and many ongoing airport infrastructure projects were in danger of stopping while others were delayed.
While the Ways and Means Members were talking about the provision’s successes, Los Angeles World Airports Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey was making the case for extending the provision before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation. LAX plans to go to the market next week to sell $898 million in bonds for the rehabilitation of the Tom Bradley International Terminal. Lindsey told the Subcommittee that LAX will save $100 million because of the exemption while creating thousands of new, good-paying construction jobs.
Although the proof that the exemption has helped open the markets for the sale of airport PABs is overwhelming, as an industry we need to continue to make the case on the Hill about how this provision helps our local communities through economic impact and jobs creation. Talking about the sales of bonds is simply not enough. As the Ways and Means Committee moves H.R. 4849 to the House floor, please contact your Congressman in support of the bill, and let him or her know how your airport has benefited from the provision and the impact your bond sale has had on your community.