Texas Airports Unite

In an effort to share information more efficiently and to take common issues to Washington with a single voice, commercial airports in Texas form a statewide association

Miller: A few things we have identified from a financial side … the passenger facility charge (PFC) is still currently at $4.50. That has not been adjusted in more than ten years. We have a need to see that increase. We have to find a better way of getting the message to our elected officials on why that is so important.

We also have bonds that airports issue; some of those bonds are subject to the alternative minimum tax (AMT) which we feel should not apply to airports. We have a temporary waiver; Massachusetts Senator John Kerry has introduced an amendment to a bill to allow a waiver for another year. We would ultimately like to see that be a permanent waiver for airports.

On the non-financial side, and this is something that really affects DFW and Houston as gateway international airports – Customs facilitation and the staffing levels that Customs has at the airports. The concern there is trying to find a way to minimize the amount of time it takes to get through the Customs process.

At our last meeting, there were some State issues that came up such as one regarding wind towers, and how the towers near an airport could impact navigational systems. Those are the types of issues that we will be looking at.

It really is a very dynamic type of agenda because our industry is pretty dynamic, and has changed rapidly. We want to be able to respond to those types of issues.

ab: Can the association also be a tool, so to speak, for sharing operational best practice among the airports in Texas?

Miller: That was discussed at our board meeting recently … there was a committee formed specifically for operations. As we begin to say ‘what areas should we be looking at as part of the association’, I nominated my assistant director here in San Antonio to chair that committee.

The reason for that is part of that committee will be looking at safety management syestems (SMS). We are a pilot airport for SMS, so we have made the offer that we would be more than happy to host any kinds of meetings to help other airports, especially the smaller ones, get a better understanding of the program and the impact it could have. For the smaller airports, the concern is how many more people will have to be hired with regard to safety.

A major benefit of the association is the opportunity to meet four or more times per year. As people begin to know each other better, it opens up a lot more opportunities to share information.

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