Category Archives: Policy Issues

Any concerning government policy

Connecting the Dots: Building the Beyond the Runway Coalition

This past summer, ACI-NA held our first event for what would become the AirportsUnited “Beyond the Runway” coalition.  Held at DCA’s historic terminal, representatives from more than 30 organizations and associations heard ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin Burke explain the importance of airports to our economy and the interests represented in the room that day.

ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin Burke shares with attendees of the July 2014 event the amount of airport capital improvement projects necessary by 2017.

ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin Burke shares with attendees of the July 2014 event the amount of airport capital improvement projects necessary by 2017.

A few months later, in October ACI-NA hosted a follow-up recruitment event seeking to further our reach and grow the Beyond the Runway Coalition.

Kevin Burke greets Beyond the Runway coalition members at the October 2014 event.

Kevin Burke greets Beyond the Runway coalition members at the October 2014 event.

From the vantage point of today, I find it very inspiring that in less than year, the Beyond the Runway Coalition has gone from concept to fruition.  Through the culmination of planning and outreach, we have seen businesses and organizations outside the normal players join us in our efforts for modernizing how we fund airport infrastructure and capital improvement projects.

Last week, in a sense, was the public debut of this coalition, through the AirportsUnited ad in Politico.  It also was an announcement that the coalition’s work is far from complete—in fact, it’s just the beginning.  In the months ahead, the Beyond the Runway coalition will continue to grow and take action on behalf of airports.  Our partners understand the importance of a healthy and competitive commercial aviation system to their businesses and industries, and they’re motivated to act.  And as this coalition strengthens and more dots are connected between our partners and the economic potential of airports, the fuller the picture that will emerge.

Nathan Pick
Director of Advocacy

Cleared for Landing: January 5-9

This first week of January may have seen the temperature plummet in Washington, but our AirportsUnited efforts certainly heated up.

On Tuesday—which also was the first day of the 114th Congress—ACI-NA, the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), and the U.S. Travel Association (USTA) sent a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate committees overseeing the 2015 FAA Reauthorization.  The airport industry’s priorities are clear: modernize the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) local user fee and maintain the Airport Improvement Program (AIP).

On Thursday, the AirportsUnited “Beyond the Runway” coalition—which is comprised of more than 20 associations and organizations representing a broad range of interests—sent their own letter to House and Senate committee leadership.  “We firmly believe that modernizing airport infrastructure is the best option for strengthening our nation’s aviation system to meet the needs of today and the challenges of tomorrow,” the coalition wrote.

Also on Thursday, AirportsUnited ran a full-page ad in the print edition of Politico, showcasing our unified message and coalition partners:


ACI-NA’s social media channels this week, too, featured robust AirportsUnited activity.  Several of our coalition partners engaged with us and our campaign’s messaging on Twitter, and our fiscal-year countdown infographics encouraged our audience to contact their members of Congress.  Visit to see how you can get involved.


But our most popular post on Facebook this week was the announcement of the latest additions to the North American Airport Trading Card series—a.k.a. #AirportCards: Indianapolis International Airport and Prince George Airport in British Columbia.  We’d be very surprised if our friendly bit of trivia that Prince George had ever-so-slightly nudged Edmonton International Airport from the top spot as the northernmost participating airport—and which EIA shared with their Facebook followers—wasn’t a factor:


Finally, Instagram gave us a glimpse into another busy—and cold!—week at several member airports.  This photo from Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, though, proved that while it might be dreary outside, inside the terminal is a different world altogether:



Caroline O’Reilly
Senior Manager, Communications and Marketing

Welcome to 2015!

If you’re an ACI-NA member, or an aviation enthusiast with a penchant for policy, you’re well aware of how pivotal this particular year is for U.S. and Canadian airports.  Both the 2015 FAA Reauthorization and the review of the Canada Transportation Act will set the course for the future of commercial aviation for North America, particularly regarding infrastructure and competition.

With the 114th Congress beginning today, it feels a bit like the first day back at school here in the Washington office— we’re well-rested from the holiday break, and we’re eager to put into full effect the game plan we’ve been developing throughout 2014 regarding FAA Reauthorization.  We continue to build our strongest-ever coalition of allied associations and industries, and we’ve never been more unified message-wise with our counterparts AAAE and U.S. Travel.   We are out the gate running today.  This morning, ACI-NA, AAAE, and U.S. Travel joined together in a joint industry letter to Congress detailing airport priorities as we move into FAA Reauthorization.

We’ve reinvigorated how we communicate this effort with you.  ACI-NA long has had a digital presence with this blog as well as various social media platforms, but 2015 marks the beginning of when we fully maximize our potential in terms of how we can truly share the exciting, enterprising, and inspiring story of airports across all our channels.  We invite you to check in regularly here at the Centerlines Blog, as well as our outposts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram, for an in-depth and up-close look at how we’re advocating for all our members and the fascinating— and fantastic— work they do every day.

Here’s to a memorable year, and one that—most importantly—gets results for airports.

Kevin M. Burke
President and CEO

Airport Trading Cards: A Mint-Condition Marketing Opportunity

by Maureen Riley
Executive Director
Salt Lake City Department of Airports

More than 20 million people travel through Salt Lake City International Airport each year. For many of our passengers, the airport plays a big part in their imaginations. From first-time fliers to the most well-versed aviation geeks, airports have an instantaneous appeal. They represent both anticipation and completion, where travelers head off into the world and return home. Airports are also complex and fascinating communities in their own right, as our employees work to ensure safe and secure operations each day.

Earlier this month, SLC joined nearly 20 airports from across the U.S. and Canada in the inaugural series of the North American Airport Trading Cards. The idea for the cards initially had been that of a collectible. Like many of our fellow Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) members, SLC routinely gets requests from airport enthusiasts for memorabilia branded with our three-letter International Air Transport Association (IATA) code. But as SLC’s card started to take shape, another possibility emerged.

SLC Executive Director Maureen Riley and junior aviation enthusiasts show off the SLC trading card

SLC Executive Director Maureen Riley and junior aviation enthusiasts show off the SLC trading card

As the first vice chair of ACI-NA, I represent the interests of not only my own airport, but those of our full membership. ACI-NA is well-known as the “Voice of Airports” in Washington, D.C., and Ottawa, but sometimes it can be a challenge to have airports stick in the minds of lawmakers. The new trading cards series helps us do exactly that.

On the back of SLC’s card, you’ll notice some fun facts, such as how we were the gateway to the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, and that we’re within an hour’s drive to 11 ski resorts. We also offer more than 650 daily arrivals and departures to nearly 90 non-stop destinations. But did you also know that we’re in midst of a $1.8 billion terminal redevelopment program that will be completed in 2022?

It’s this last fact that makes SLC’s trading card more than a keepsake—it transforms it into an advocacy tool. Capital improvement projects, like our terminal redevelopment, might not easily capture the public’s imagination. But when it reads like a batting average, infrastructure investment becomes an all-star stat for a world-class airport.

The next time you’re flying through SLC, stop by an airport information desk to start (or complete) your trading card collection.

ACI-NA Puts Airport Priorities at Forefront in Infrastructure Week

Note: This blog was originally published on May 15 in Aviation Daily.

By Kevin M. Burke
Since joining Airports Council International – North America in January as its new President and CEO, I have spent the last few months meeting with airport stakeholders and policy makers all around North America.  I went into this listening tour with my ears and mind open about the current and future challenges facing airports and their role in supporting our economy.

One of the needs I routinely heard – and one of my main goals for ACI-NA – comes back to the need to modernize infrastructure and our ability to advance airport priorities through the use of broad coalitions.  As a lifelong advocate, I know that participating in coalitions provides voices with a greater platform to share their unique perspective within a context that can spur action.

This week marks the second annual “Infrastructure Week,” a week-long celebration of the vast network that supports – and moves – the U.S. economy.  Endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Brookings Institute, and others including President Barack Obama, Infrastructure Week provides those in the transportation sector with a valuable opportunity to educate Congress and the American public about the important role infrastructure plays in creating U.S. jobs and growing our economy.

The aviation community is well aware that surface transportation currently is in the legislative spotlight.  But that doesn’t mean aviation infrastructure issues need to take a back seat this week.  In fact, now is an ideal opportunity to truly start gathering momentum ahead of next year’s Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization.

During Infrastructure Week 2014, we at ACI-NA will be working across the infrastructure and transportation community to share the industry’s important perspective.  Our baseline message is simple and clear: airports are a fundamental component of our nation’s transportation infrastructure.

With more than 700 million passengers and 27 million metric tons of cargo traveling in and out of the United States through an airport each year, airports make a tremendous contribution to U.S. GDP—more than $1.2 trillion—and employ more than 1.2 million people.  Those are not numbers policy makers can ignore, and we at ACI-NA will not let them.

In order to ensure that our airports and commercial aviation sector continue to lead the world, we need to get serious about investing in our future.  That is exactly why ACI-NA is proud to participate in Infrastructure Week 2014.

Last year, we conducted a broad survey across North American airports to assess the current and future needs of airports as they are called upon to meet increases in passenger and cargo traffic.  We were able to identify $71.3 billion in infrastructure improvements needed by 2017 to meet strong growth projections in both passenger and cargo activity and the need to update aging infrastructure.  U.S. airports expect the number of domestic passengers alone to surpass one billion enplanements within the next 15 years, and their greatest challenge currently is obtaining the financial resources that will allow them to successfully tackle these infrastructure needs.

Airports need additional funding, and the primary source of this funding—particularly for our large hub airports—is the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC).  The PFC’s maximum of $4.50 per segment, however, has not been raised since 2000, which has reduced its purchasing power by roughly half.  To put it another way: the longer the PFC’s purchasing power continues to be stalled the more expensive necessary capital improvement projects become.

The investment we make in airports will help further bolster our economy by bringing growth to other sectors, including travel, tourism, and global commerce.  If we allow U.S. infrastructure to continue to age without new investment, we will fall behind.  Any lag in our economic growth because of an outdated infrastructure jeopardizes our competitiveness in the global market.

The world is growing more global each day.  In an increasingly competitive global market, we must be able to successfully meet capacity demands with the safe, efficient, and modern facilities that passengers and cargo shippers expect.  Modernizing the way we finance airport improvement projects is essential for airports to meet these needs, all while creating U.S. jobs and growing our economy.  I look forward to working with my transportation colleagues to make that happen.