A Slight Funding Shortfall

A group of congressional Democrats is calling on their colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee to increase funding next fiscal year for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP). Calling AIP an important source of federal support for runway, apron, and taxiway construction and rehabilitation, the group cites the Airports Council International-North America's contention that overall airport capital development costs will total more than $71.5 billion from 2005 to 2009. The reality is far different: AIP's annual funding level has hovered at about $3 billion over the past six years.

But the Bush administration's FY 2007 budget request for AIP is just $2.75 billion, which is $950 million less than what Congress has already authorized, according to a May 4 letter to appropriations leaders of both parties and signed by Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.) and 39 of his colleagues. The cut will trigger significant changes to the AIP formula funding. The minimum entitlement for primary airports with more than 10,000 boardings annually will be reduced from $1 million to $650,000; the minimum for larger primary airports "will be cut by one-half," and at more than 2,500 general aviation airports, entitlements of up to $150,000 will be totally eliminated. Meanwhile, an April 26 Aviation Subcommittee hearing on safely managing the national airspace was cancelled with no new date set. >>Contact: House Transportation Committee, (202) 225-4472

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