AB: Are you surprised by the level of AIP being proposed in both Houses?
Principato: No. Congress has certainly shown a lot of interest in the program. A federal grant program that’s used for infrastructure back home is usually going to be pretty popular. And airports have shown how responsible they are in the use of the money and what it’s gone for.
AB: With the airlines these days, it’s getting harder and harder to get a seat. Concerns?
Principato: There really isn’t an answer for it, unless the market, the passengers, start telling the airlines they need more capacity. It seems like they’ve almost gotten to the point where they can figure out almost to the seat the demand.
I don’t think any of us wants the government to get back into the business of telling the airlines how many seats they have to fly.
You can’t blame everything on the government, or on business aviation. There are going to be cancellations, even if we have a NextGen system everybody thinks is great; even if the new PFC enabled airports to build everything they want and need. Delays, weather, duty time problems, are all going to happen.
AB: Anything else on your plate related to this topic?
Principato: A couple of things. We’re already working on the next reauthorization. We feel like we need to do a better job of educating people on how airports do their business, how projects are financed.
Security is a huge issue — employee screening; the future of the whole security regime. We’re going to be taking a look at what the security regime should look like five years from now.
Environment — there’s no amount of talking about the relatively low environmental impact of the aviation industry that’s going to stop people from shining a light on the industry. So, we need to be in front of it and shape the future better.
Congestion management is an important issue, to the large airports and to the smaller communities who want to ensure they have access.
AB: What about the topic of 100 percent employee screening?
Principato: We’ve worked closely with Boeing and others on the studies that they’ve done. ACI was really pushing for the airlines to be involved. They have people moving back and forth all day. It really involves everybody’s operations; everybody who works at the airport.
If you just put a magnetometer in one place, the person knows that every day they’re going to go through that magnetometer. If they know that they’re going to go through that magnetometer at that place, and they have nefarious intent, that’s pretty easy to beat. If you’re using behavior recognition, and you’re making use of technology, and you do random screening — it’s a little tougher to beat the system.
AB: Are you optimistic that we’re finally going to get some money for EDS implementation?
Principato: I’m very pleased; we still have a way to go. It really is a more efficient way. Then you have other resources that you can refocus.
Moving from a labor-intensive approach to a technology-intensive approach for security is the way to go. If the system is inefficient, then it’s going to be less secure.
ACI-NA praises house for providing airports with tools to fund capital improvements to meet increasing passenger traffic, encourage price and service competition, and improve safety and security.