Airport Business

DEC 2017 - JAN 2018

The airport professional's source for airport industry news, articles, events, and careers.

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12 airportbusiness December 2017/January 2018 By Kevin Burke, ACI-NA President & CEO WASHINGTON WATCH Advancing Airport Priorities in the Trump Administration As always, airports continued to operate in an uncertain landscape filled with new require- ments to alleviate concerns about evolving global aviation security threats. Maintaining the safety and security of the traveling public is a top prior- ity for airports. Earlier this summer, the Trump Administration announced its intentions to ban portable electronic devices from the passenger cabin on flights from Africa and Europe in response to intelligence. Unilateral requirements pose sig- nificant challenges to the global airport industry. ACI-NA worked in coordination with our col- leagues at ACI World and ACI Europe to successful- ly advocate for enhance measures to be implement- ed at last point of departure airports rather than a full ban on electronic devices. Our work to identify risk-based mitigation measures that provide need- ed flexibility is a testament to the global reach our organization has with in the aviation industry. We will continue to collaborate with the TSA and glob- al regulators to ensure security requirements can be tailored to the unique operating environment of individual airports around the globe. As I continue to stress, modernizing airport infrastructure is a primary challenge for our airport members and one of our top legislative priorities. Throughout his campaign, President Trump spoke to the challenges that our national infrastructure – including airports – face. However, an infrastruc- ture package has taken a backseat to policy items such as tax reform and healthcare. We have redoubled our efforts on Capitol Hill and policymakers are beginning to come around to airport infrastructure needs despite age- old and inaccurate airline rhetoric. The Senate Appropriations Committee delivered two key wins for passengers and airports this year by modern- izing the local Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) user fee and increasing funding for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP). This is a very big "first step" in achieving airport priorities. Especially as the latest North American Annual Traffic Report shows that 65 mil- lion more people traveled through North American airports in 2016 than in 2015. And our current air- port system was designed for half the traffic volume we have today! ACI World predicts that 2 billion passengers are expected to travel through North American airports by 2018 and 3 billion by 2035. In the U.S., airports have almost $100 billion in infrastructure projects during 2017-2021 to accom- modate growth in passenger traffic, cargo activity and rehabilitate existing facilities. We cannot wait for an infrastructure plan. That's nearly $20 billion a year. We must take every opportunity in 2018 to impress on the Trump administration and policy makers that airports have significant infrastruc- ture needs. Just as it seemed that infrastructure invest- ment was gaining some traction on Capitol Hill, airports and the entire municipal community were caught off-guard by the House of Representatives' plan to eliminate tax-advantaged Private Activity Bonds (PABs), a vital financing tool for airports, as part of their tax reform package. This provision proves to be yet another challenge for airports as it would significantly increase the cost of airport infrastructure. Airports need stable funding to modernize facilities, meet the demands of com- munities and create jobs. The Senate's tax reform proposal preserves the tax exemption on PABs. ACI-NA continues to reit- erate with both chambers the importance of PABs to airport infrastructure investment. More than 60 percent of the bonds used to finance airport infra- structure projects are PABs. Airports could expect to incur higher financing costs – some $3.2 billion over the next five years – if this plan goes through. In my last column, I spoke to the regulatory burdens airports face. In 2018, we will continue to work with the Trump administration and policy- makers on regulatory relief measures to enable air - ports to operate more efficiently in a business-like manner. With passenger traffic on the rise, we will focus our efforts on urging the Trump administra- tion and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to develop new Airport Technical Design Standards (ATDS) and the Preclearance Facility Design Standards (PFDS) that enhance operations and reduce costs to help airports attract and retain international air service. We remain committed now more than ever to advancing airport priorities. The next year will be even more challenging as Washington gears up for midterm elections. Our success comes direct- ly from our active and engaged airport members. Thank you for your continued participa- tion this year. Cheers to 2018! 2 017 was a challenging year for North American airports. As we look toward 2018, I am continually impressed by the resolve of our industry to confront issues and seize opportunities to the benefit of your passengers, customers and commu- nities. Through it all, ACI-NA continues to tirelessly advocate on behalf of airports to advance key prior- ities and mitigate uncertainty that can negatively impact airports' ability to operate efficiently.

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