LoBiondo Statement from Hearing on Airport Financing and Development
Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ)
Today we look forward to hearing from the Federal Aviation Administration, the Government Accountability Office, and industry stakeholders on the current and future state of airport financing and development.
Airports serve as an important foundation for our nation’s infrastructure. They enable millions of passengers to travel throughout the United States and to destinations all over the world. Airports are also tremendous economic drivers for many communities across the United States, where airports and air operators help connect large and small communities. Airports support over 10 million jobs, with annual payrolls of over $360 billion. And they produce an annual output of $1.2 trillion to our economy.
Airports play an important role to stimulate local economies. They connect our region to the nation’s transportation grid, helping to bring additional visitors and tourism dollars to the region. Federal programs, including the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program (AIP), provide funding to help enhance airports capacity, security, efficiency, and safety.
Just two weeks ago, Atlantic City International Airport in my district received nearly $1.7 million in AIP grants to help operations and dependability. This is just one of many examples in a long, established history of South Jersey airports and stakeholders working together with the FAA to continue a standard of excellence.
Looking ahead, the FAA forecasts long term aviation growth – including additional traffic – which may require the need for increasing system capacity. This forecast calls for U.S. carrier passenger growth over the next 20 years to average 2.2 percent per year, and more than 1 billion passengers being transported in the U.S. system. Just this past May, we saw evidence to support the FAA’s forecast, as the majority of U.S. air carriers expanded their flying capacities in order to accommodate the increased demand of air traffic.
Given these projections, industry, FAA, and Congress will need to work together and look to see what innovative approaches are out there to maintain our nation’s airports’ ability to continue providing safe and efficient service. This type of innovation is already taking place at the FAA’s Tech Center, in my district. Research is being conducted, in collaboration with industry and academia, to ensure that that the needs of our current and future air transportation systems are being met.
The FAA Tech Center also operates the National Airport Test Facility on its campus. This is a state-of-the-art, full-scale pavement research facility, which, among many other things, provides the FAA with engineered solutions for pavement designs that improve safety at airports.
The Subcommittee is interested in hearing the witnesses’ perspectives on the funding mechanisms that exist to finance and develop airports, how federal programs are being utilized, what could be improved, and what challenges may lie ahead. We are also very interested in hearing how industry stakeholders, from airports to air carriers, have found creative ways to retain or increase their ability to provide air service.
As we turn toward the next FAA reauthorization bill, we hope to continue this dialogue on airport financing. It is important that we hear from all stakeholders and receive your input to learn what ideas work and don’t work in the real world.
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