Airport Business

APR 2018

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

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WASHINGTON WATCH I have long held the position that airport infrastructure is not just an airport issue. Airport infrastructure is an issue that impacts everyone. From the airlines to the manufacturers and airport business partners to passengers, our outdated airport infrastructure is a common source of frustration. As such, it represents the greatest opportunity to come together and solve this issue once and for all. That is why we were deeply disappointed and frustrated the ACI-NA-supported Senate Appropriations Committee's bipartisan proposal to modernize the locally set Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) user fee did not make the final cut for the omnibus funding bill recently passed by Congress. We are, however, encouraged that Congress did recognize those needs by boosting the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) by $1 billion. As an industry, we should be proud of the work that ACI-NA had done – in coordination with AAAE and our airport members – to bring the industry together to make the case for funding the significant infrastructure needs of airports. We have repositioned the PFC as a user fee and not a tax. We have brought together almost 90 outside groups in support of PFC and AIP through ACI-NA's Beyond the Runway Coalition, thus no longer making PFC's an airport versus airline issue. Perhaps most importantly, our issues were some of the last to be resolved, forcing Hill leaders to make hard decisions. We fought until the end. At the same time, our fight is far from over. Our continued work on airport infrastructure could not be more important. There is now growing recognition by the airline industry that more needs to be done. We applaud IATA's Director General Alexandre de Juniac for his recent statement that we are on the verge of an aviation infrastructure crisis – including in the United States – if we fail to act. His call for a modernized infrastructure that is both "efficient and affordable" is a welcome acknowledgment from an industry that has hidden its head in the sand for too long. Simply put, we have 20th-century airports supporting a 21st-century economy. With nearly $100 billion in well-documented infrastructure needs through 2021, America's airports face unprecedented challenges when it comes to accommodating rapid growth in passenger and cargo activity and rehabilitating existing facilities. The benefits for modernized airport infrastructure could not be clearer. In addition to increased price and service competition, our passengers will have a better experience with safer, more comfortable and efficient facilities. And our airline partners will reduce costs through greater efficiency. While the Omnibus did not contain the language we fought for on the infrastructure financing side, we secured significant wins in this bill for the airport industry. ACI-NA successfully convinced appropriators of the importance of providing funding for the TSA Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) Reimbursement Program and exit lane staffing. This is not only sound policy; it also helps in our ongoing efforts to fight the flawed Trump Administration proposal to eliminate these two important federal security programs. Our persistence is also evident in another Homeland Security section of the bill which directs TSA to – finally – begin to reimburse airports for the costs associated with the installation of in-line explosive detection systems after 9/11. Additionally, the 328 new Customs and Border Protection officers funded in this bill is an important first step in closing the major gap in CBP staffing impacting airports of all sizes. As the first funding of new officers in nearly five years, we will continue to push for more funding to ensure their important work is fully staffed. Thank you for your continued support and advocacy efforts to provide airports the resources they need in both the infrastructure and security arenas. We are encouraged by the progress of the industry and remain committed to working with our partners to take advantage of every opportunity to modernize the PFC. I encourage you to continue to educate national and local policymakers about the importance of improving the airport funding system as a way to address the infrastructure needs America's airports have to safely and efficiently serve our passengers and communities. The airport industry is stronger when we work together to meet today's challenges and tomorrow's opportunities. The airport industry is stronger when we work together to meet today's challenges and tomorrow's opportunities. April 2018 airportbusiness 15

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