WASHINGTON - Proposed cuts in future Airport Improvement Program spending "would prove incredibly damaging" in Memphis, airport chief executive officer Larry D. Cox said in a letter to tri-state congressmen released Monday.
The Bush administration's proposed 2007 budget would cut $950 million from the level authorized by Congress and would be $765 million less than the amount budgeted in the current fiscal year, for the program that provides money for capacity, safety and security projects at the country's airports.
In Memphis, Cox said the AIP money is used to prepare for the use of Airbus 380s by FedEx, another construction phase for a terminal access road, storm drainage, reconstruction of a taxiway and to acquire property.
Cox said reducing AIP funding from $3.7 billion to the proposed $2.75 billion level "would significantly affect the amount of funding made available to our airport to continue these projects."
He did not project a specific dollar value for the cut's effect in Memphis.
The Feb. 22 letter to both Tennessee senators and U.S. Reps Harold Ford Jr, D-Tenn.; John Tanner, D-Tenn.; Roger Wicker, R-Miss.; Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.; and Marion Berry, D-Ark., was released on the same day the airport received a $5.8 million federal grant for runway rehabilitation work that Cox said has been completed.
In a statement, Ford said: "The President's priorities are different than mine. His cut of $950 million to the Airport Improvement Program will undermine security and infrastructure improvements in Memphis and nationally. From port security to airport security, President Bush is wrong."
In his letter to the congressmen, Cox said he understands the budget difficulties, but suggested cuts of the magnitude proposed are shortsighted.
"We simply must continue moving forward rather than backwards when it comes to the nation's airport infrastructure," he wrote.
Contact Washington correspondent Bartholomew Sullivan at (202) 408-2726.
"From port security to airport security, President Bush is wrong."
Harold Ford Jr.
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