ACI-NA Insists that Reallocated AIP Funds be Used to Meet Frontline Operational Needs

Today, ACI-NA sent a letter to Federal Aviation Administrator Michael Huerta strongly making the case that Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds should never again be used to fund FAA operations, as has been authorized by Congress over the past several days. The letter also states that AIP funds FAA uses in FY2013 to pay for FAA operations must be used solely for frontline operational purposes--including keeping contract towers open, eliminating planned nighttime tower closures, and keeping contract weather observers on the job.

The text of the letter appears below.

Dear Administrator Huerta:

Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA) is relieved that air traffic controller furloughs have ended, returning our nation's air transportation system to its full capacity.  The travel and financial impacts last week for passengers, airlines, and airports were substantial and could not continue.  However, we are very concerned about the unprecedented use of Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds being used to pay for this fix, as these funds were paid by passengers to maintain and enhance airport runways and taxiways, not fund FAA operations. This must be the first and only time AIP funding is used for FAA operations. We will adamantly oppose this practice in the future. Further, we implore FAA to use AIP funding effectively by restoring funding to operational programs that benefit airports.

We strongly advocate that FAA prioritize use of the funding flexibility the U.S. Congress has provided through the end of FY2013to fund the following:

·         Ensuring frontline air traffic control positions are fully staffed.

·         Keeping air traffic control facilities—including the 149 contract towers currently slated for closure and the 49 additional towers currently slated for nighttime closure—open according to pre-sequestration schedules.

·         Keeping Contract Weather Observers on the job until the FAA has coordinated with affected airports and put a workable CWO transition plan into effect.

Given that airports will be sacrificing needed capital improvements to keep the National Airspace System running this summer, it is critical for FAA to ensure every dollar of the $253 is used directly on these critical operational priorities, and not on other non-operational expenses.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.