By Morgan Dye
Greg Principato, president of Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) submitted testimony to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Subcommittee on Aviation regarding the airport industry’s eagerness to work with the Committee on a new FAA Reauthorization bill. In the testimony, Principato stressed that the ability of airports to serve their communities has been sorely tested as Congress has been forced to pass extension after extension in order to keep the FAA operating.
Principato emphasized that airports need local financing options to fund the safety, security and infrastructure necessary to serve local communities. “By granting airports the ability to generate local funding for local projects through the collection of the Passenger Facility Charge user fee, more than $80.3 billion in airport capital investments have been made since 1990, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs,” said Principato.
In addressing the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), Principato stated that as a result of increased construction costs and the ever-increasing regulatory burden, AIP needs to be reauthorized and funded at higher levels to ensure that adequate funding is available. “Airport capital needs are growing and we must act now if we are to meet the future demands of the system. Expanded airport capacity is critical for a safe, efficient and successful aviation system.”
In his testimony, Principato also addressed how air traffic modernization will affect airports by emphasizing that NextGen begins and ends at airports. Airports will play an important role in realizing the full benefits of NextGen by altering current facilities and building new runways to accommodate new approach procedures and increased demand.
“With regard to airport infrastructure, a transition to NextGen will also depend on the ability of airports to handle greater capacity. Unfortunately, the current AIP and PFC programs are not sufficiently funded to accommodate both traditional airport capital needs and the need that NextGen will likely impose.”
Principato also called for a permanent exemption from the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) exemption for private activity bonds (PABs). “This exemption, which was available to airports in 2009 and 2010, enabled airports to take advantage of lower interest rates and sell over $11 billion in PABs, allowing construction to continue and jobs to be created at airports across the country.”