Much of the buzz on Capitol Hill has been infrastructure-related, which has spurred hearings, discussions, and meetings as a part of a legislative push aimed at developing and passing robust and broad infrastructure legislation. The House Transportation Committee continued the conversation around this legislative push on a critical component of infrastructure investment that keeps our nation connected – our nation’s airports.
On Tuesday, the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure examined the state of our nation’s airports as well as solutions to fix chronic underinvestment. Committee Members heard from individuals all facets of the aviation industry. At this hearing, “The Cost of Doing Nothing: Why Investment in our Nation’s Airports Matters,” witnesses provided testimony on the effects of underinvestment on our nation’s aviation infrastructure. The following people testified:
- Tori Barnes, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs for the U.S. Travel Association
- Ted Christie, CEO and President of Spirit Airlines, Inc.
- Lawrence J. Krauter, A.A.E., AICP, Chief Executive Officer of Spokane International Airport
- Joe Lopano, CEO of Tampa International Airport
- Candace S. McGraw, CEO of Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport
- Marc Scribner, Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute
At the hearing, Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR4) stated:
“Crippling congestion has become the norm in our country. And it is not just on roads. This congestion is affecting air travel in the United States as well, with terminals clogged with passengers; runways and taxiways needing additions and rehabilitation; and airplanes sitting on tarmacs across the country waiting for gates. There is no question that Members of this Committee who fly each week to Washington experience these issues. So what is the solution? What can Congress do to solve these rising capital needs? I am surely not opposed to increasing the FAA’s Federal AIP grant levels. But for starters, we can increase the cap on the passenger facility charge (PFC).”
In ASCE’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, our nation’s airports earned a “D” due to a lack of investment in our aviation infrastructure assets. Airports are struggling to keep up with investment needs, creating a $42 billion 10-year funding gap, because of an outdated, federally mandated cap on how much airports can charge passengers for facility expansion and renovation. Raising or eliminating the cap on the PFC will allow airports a much-needed revenue boost and the ability for long-term planning and modernizing of our aviation system for the 21st century. ASCE has long supported increasing the PFC and will continue to advocate for stronger airport investment.
ASCE’s government relations team is actively engaged as this legislative push continues on Capitol Hill. We urge you reach out to your Members of Congress and tell them to put forward a long-term plan to improve our infrastructure systems.