In a meeting today on Capitol Hill organized by the U.S. Senate Democratic Caucus, AAAE Chair Bruce Carter, A.A.E., pressed lawmakers to provide airports with the tools they need to finance critical infrastructure projects and improve aviation safety.
Carter, the Director of Aviation at the Quad City International Airport in Moline, Ill., urged lawmakers participating in the meeting focused on rebuilding America's infrastructure to fully fund the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) and completely eliminate the federal cap on local Passenger Facility Charges (PFCs). He said both steps would help airports improve their portion of America's infrastructure, stimulate the economy and support jobs in their local communities.
Carter thanked the group of almost 20 Senators for passing a multi-year FAA reauthorization bill earlier this year that includes more than $3 billion per year for the AIP and supports more than 100,000 jobs annually. He also urged Congress to eliminate the outdated and arbitrary cap on local PFCs. He told lawmakers that even the President's modest proposal to raise the cap from $4.50 to $7 would generate an additional $90 million annually for airport projects in his home state of Illinois.
In a separate meeting with Assistant Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Carter discussed how Congress could also help airports self-finance their infrastructure projects by approving permanent Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) relief. The Senate-passed version of the highway authorization bill includes a AAAE-backed proposal that would temporarily exclude private activity bonds from AMT for bonds that airports issue before the end of the year.
Carter indicated that the Senate provision could save airports hundreds of millions of dollars this year. At San Francisco International Airport alone, approximately $50 million would be saved over the 30-year life of new bonds that the airport plans to sell this year. He noted that a two-year reprieve that Congress approved as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is expected to save airports approximately $1.8 billion.
AAAE has urged Congress to consider adding a broader AMT fix to the final highway bill, which House and Senate lawmakers are currently negotiating. "A permanent AMT solution would help airports reduce their financing costs over the long-term, allow them to invest in more infrastructure projects, and support even more jobs," Carter said.