The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday passed a bill that will fund the Federal Aviation Administration for five years. The House bill, which passed in a 393-to-13 vote, does not include an increase in the cap on the Passenger Facility Charge, nor does it include language that would lay the groundwork for eventual privatization of the nation’s Air Traffic Control system.
“While the administration and Congress continue to talk about infrastructure investment, much more needs to be done to address the systemic funding problems that put airports of all sizes at a significant disadvantage for modernizing their facilities to meet the needs of air passengers and local communities,” said Kevin Burke, president and CEO of Airports Council International-North America, and Todd Hauptli, president and CEO of the American Association of Airport Executives, in a joint statement issued Friday.
The bill would allocate about $4.35 billion a year to the FAA, with about $3.35 billion going to infrastructure projects annually. The bill also calls for investment of $1 billion to create a report on the agency’s Next Generation Air Transportation System to evaluate air traffic control technology.
The debate on reauthorization now moves to the Senate. Airport industry trade groups are continuing to push for an increase to the PFC cap, which has been a cornerstone of the industry’s lobbying efforts for several years.
“With airports having nearly $100 billion in infrastructure needs through 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2018 (H.R. 4) passed by the House today misses a significant opportunity to provide airports with the resources they require to repair aging infrastructure, make needed investments in their facilities to accommodate rising passenger and cargo volume, and enhance air service competition for the benefit of passengers,” Burke and Hauptli said in the statement. They also noted that the infrastructure funding, through the Airport Improvement Program, holds steady under the bill, despite the FAA’s claim that the industry needs an additional $3 billion per year.
The two executives vowed to continue their efforts. “The airport industry will continue our work with Congress and the White House to achieve policy solutions that will empower airports to better serve their passengers and communities,” they said.