The Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) has said that it is ‘pleased to see’ that President Barack Obama’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2015, turns its attention to North American airports, but feels measures do not go far enough.
“We’re pleased to see that President Obama’s budget priorities for transportation include important airport priorities like a long-overdue increase in the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) for airports and a critical increase in staffing at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities,” said ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin M. Burke.
“Allowing airports the flexibility to implement a modest increase in the maximum PFCs they would be able to charge is an important first step in getting investment in our nation’s airport infrastructure back on track with the rest of the world. Likewise, giving CBP the staff and technology it needs to screen arriving international air travelers in a timely manner will provide a more welcoming experience to those arriving in America.”
Although the White House’s FY 2015 budget proposal calls for increasing the PFC to $8.00 per enplanement, it also would cut funding for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), which is a key source of capital improvement and infrastructure funding for smaller regional airports.
SMALLER AIRPORTS WILL HAVE LESS SUPPORT
“We’re disappointed that this proposed increase in the PFC appears to be at the expense of AIP,” continued Burke. “The cut in AIP’s overall funding ultimately would mean that the smaller airports that depend on this funding for necessary capital improvement projects will have less support.”
The proposed budget also calls for 2,000 new CBP officers and procurement of new technology and equipment to make ports of entry more efficient in processing arriving passengers and cargo. “ACI-NA long has advocated that CBP receive the proper resources it needs to accommodate the millions of arriving international air travelers each year,” said Burke. “We’re pleased that the White House recognizes this correlation in its budget proposal, and this is particularly welcome news for our busiest international airports.”
ACI-NA’s most recent Capital Needs Study found that US airports have more than $71bn in total projects considered ‘essential’ for completion by 2017, and the number of domestic passengers alone is expected to surpass 1bn enplanements in the next 15 years.
“ACI-NA looks forward to working with both the White House and Congress on enacting an increase in the PFC for all airports that rely on this source of funding, while also safeguarding AIP support levels. Pitting large hubs against smaller, regional airports for limited resources is not a productive long-term solution for ensuring the global competitiveness of American airports.”