Nearly $100 billion in infrastructure investment needed in US airports over the next five years can be met by eliminating a federal cap on local user fees, an airport advocacy group says.
Infrastructure needs at airports have risen 32 percent in the past two years, with increased spending needed to accommodate growth in passenger and cargo activity, fix existing facilities and support innovation, according to a report released last week by the North American branch of trade body Airports Council International (ACI-NA).
The group said the gap could be closed without increased federal spending if Congress scraps a federal cap on the Passenger Facility Charge, a local user fee now capped at $4.50 per flight segment.
“We must act immediately to get Washington out of the way and eliminate the outdated federal restrictions that hold America’s airports back,” said ACI-NA president and chief executive Kevin Burke. “By giving airports the ability to meet their local infrastructure needs without relying on federal tax dollars, airports will be well positioned to maintain their leadership in the global aviation system.”
Spending needs are the greatest at large hub airports, which see 72.6 percent of enplanements and need $60.4 billion from 2017 to 2021. Medium hub airports need $11.7 billion, while small hub airports account for $8.5 billion of the needs.
The ACI-NA report came the same week the American Society of Civil Engineers issued its quadrennial report card, giving US infrastructure a D+ grade. Aviation fared even worse, earning a D, with the ACSE also recommending the removal of the PFC as one of the necessary solutions.