This week, the Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA), an ASCE advocacy partner through the Beyond the Runway Coalition, released a report entitled “Terminally Challenged: Addressing the Infrastructure Funding Shortfall of America’s Airports.” The report’s findings support conclusions made in ASCE’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, and stressed the need for continued leadership and investment.
The report stated that 1.7 billion passengers and 31.7 million metric tons of cargo traveled through U.S. airports in 2017. Our nation’s airports had a national economic impact of $1.4 trillion and contributed more than seven percent to the U.S. gross domestic product, while supporting over 11.5 million jobs around the country. Despite the important role our aviation infrastructure has in the national economy, our outdated aviation infrastructure is not keeping pace with the demand, which has resulted in too many overcrowded and cramped airports around the country.
Our nation’s airports are facing nearly $130 billion in new infrastructure needs across the aviation system and a debt burden of $91.6 billion from past projects. This report asserts that our nation’s airports require making up those infrastructure upgrades of nearly $130 billion by 2023, or $26 billion per year, with more than 56 percent of the needs inside our aging terminals. By making these upgrades and rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, we can improve passenger experience for millions of travelers.
On the heels of ACI-NA’s report release, ASCE President Robin A. Kemper said, “The American Society of Civil Engineers gave our nation’s airports a “D” in the 2017 Infrastructure Report Card because of increasing congestion and underinvestment in our aviation infrastructure assets. Our nation’s aviation industry is technologically advanced and has economically efficient aircraft, but airport infrastructure and air traffic control systems are not keeping up. Airport traffic is increasing – it is expected that 24 out of the top 30 major airports may soon experience “Thanksgiving-peak traffic volume” at least once a week. ASCE urges Congress to take action on improving and modernizing our nation’s airport infrastructure.”
In order to raise our aviation grade and combat the findings of ACI-NA’s report, we must take serious steps to invest in our nation’s aviation system. ASCE urges Congress to support increased funding for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), which is a major airport infrastructure investment program of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that provides grants to the nation’s airports for capital projects such as runways, taxiways, and major facilities; and Passenger Facilities Charges (PFC), which are fees that an airport levees on each passenger enplaning at their commercial airport for infrastructure improvements.
As Congress seeks to find solutions to improve our aviation infrastructure, ASCE continues to encourage lawmakers to increase funding for the AIP to $4.35 billion and raise or eliminate the cap on the PFC in order to modernize our aviation system for the 21st century.