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.
Greg Principato, ACI-NA President, and Jim Hoffa, General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters agree: it’s time to pass FAA reauthorization.
In a joint letter published in the “Departures” column of the March 1 issue of Aviation Daily, Greg and Jim stressed the significant impacts that a long-term FAA reauthorization bill would have on the economy. “Over the longer term, FAA reauthorization would create conditions for the next wave of economic growth. In the short term, the bill will immediately create good construction and technology jobs, giving local economies the jumpstart they need.”
The job pool in the U.S. airline industry has been shrinking steadily for a year and a half. In December, scheduled passenger airlines had 3.3% fewer workers than they did a year ago. It was the 18th consecutive month in which employment dropped from the previous year.
This concerns the Teamsters Union, as it has contracts that cover more than 64,000 airline employees. It’s also a big concern for ACI-NA. Airports are experiencing layoffs and furloughs. In the past year, 35 airports lost all service and almost 300 more are down to only one carrier.
“Both of us fear that much more will be lost if Congress doesn’t quickly summon the will to tackle the problems faced by our aviation system. It is important to remember this is a jobs generator that is already on the congressional “to do” list.”
Click here to view the letter published in Aviation Daily (paid subscription required).
Be sure to check your mailbox for the latest edition of Centerlines. December’s issue features a cover story on the future of airport concessions and how these programs have adapted to the challenging economy while taking advantage of new opportunities.
It’s no shock to anyone that the struggling economy has affected airport operations—particularly in the concessions realm. According to the article, while sales per enplaned passenger have held steady, overall revenue at airports is dropping because of the drop in passenger numbers. Specialty retail has been hit the hardest, dropping anywhere from one to eight percent.
But airports and their partners are choosing to take advantage of the economic lull to reevaluate and improve operations. Some concessionaries have changed their hours of operation to meet busy traffic periods and to cut costs. Other airports are offering personal services and conveniences such as pet kennels and sleep hotels. In doing so, airports will be prepared for passenger demands when traffic returns.
Other stories featured in the December issue of Centerlines include:
- - Airports: Complex Responsibilities in Challenging Times
- - The Screening Partnership Program: Is the Opt-Out Still an Option?
- - Enabling the Disabled: Curb-to-Curb Accessibility is a Never-Ending Struggle
Click here to read the cover story. Click here to view the entire December Centerlines issue.
The Digital Age is here, and airports are on board. From blogs, to Facebook, to Twitter, to YouTube, social media outlets are all new ways in which airports are attempting to connect with their audiences.
According to a recent ACI-NA survey on social media efforts at airports, more than 2/3 of airport respondents (64.2%) have a Facebook page. About 60% of respondents are using Twitter to ‘tweet’ their airport news and events, and about 42% are utilizing YouTube to post video clips of various airport events and services.
When asked why, 95.1% indicated that the No. 1 reason to implement social media tools is to help the airport communicate with their communities better. The second and third reasons were to enhance customer service and gain media exposure. The majority of responding airports (51.4%) have found these methods to be helpful in achieving these goals.
As these tools continue to permeate the marketing and communications scene, stay tuned for more information from ACI-NA on the latest social media trends at airports throughout North America. In the meantime, check out ACI-NA’s Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, and peruse Centerlines Blog and Greg’s Blog.
-Victoria Houghton, Sr. Mgr., Communications & Marketing
Passenger traffic at airlines across the country may be down, but operators of airport concessions have some reason to be optimistic, according to new data released today by ACI-NA that show concession sales per passenger are on the rise.
According to an ACI-NA analysis of data from the FAA Compliance Activity Tracking System, total nonaeronautical operating revenue at U.S. commercial service airports was up more than 6 percent from a year ago. Food and beverage sales fared well too, with sales totaling $569 billion in 2008, an increase of 4 percent from 2007.
Airport concessions are critical to increasing non-aeronautical revenue at airports, ACI-NA’s Brett McAllister says, adding that new and creative concessions programs are serving passengers at a time when airlines are reducing services in areas like food and beverages.
The data were welcome news to the more than 200 airport concessions operators gathered in Indianapolis this week for the ACI-NA 2009 Airport Concessions Conference. The meeting coincides with the first anniversary of the Indianapolis Airport Authority’s opening of its $1 million terminal where airport merchants are bringing in $11 per passenger, up $8 one year ago, according to airport officials.
-Sheila Owens, VP Communications & Marketing