SMACNA is urging the House to support H.R 1265, Investing in America: Rebuilding America's Airport Infrastructure Act, introduced by Representatives Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Thomas Massie (R-KY). The bill would eliminate the federally imposed cap on the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) and provide airports more local control to make airport infrastructure investment decisions. SMACNA believes that PFC levels should be locally controlled so airports can more easily meet their individual construction needs. This would allow airport infrastructure projects to be quickly and adequately funded and for construction to begin as local authorities determine.
Since its inception in 1990, the locally set PFC user fee has become the foundation of airport capital investment and construction programs creating countless jobs and economic development. In addition, the PFC funding FAA approved projects improves the passenger experience by eliminating congestion, increasing airline competition, improving safety and security, as well as accommodating future growth. PFCs are a local user fee paid by air travelers and collected by the airlines on behalf of the airport to fund capacity, safety, security, and noise mitigation projects.
PFC’s help meet the critical needs of airports and regional transportation development. Key points to consider are:
- Airports lack stable, predictable funding sources that keep pace with rising construction cost inflation for these intensive capital projects.
- The PFC cap was last set by Congress in 2000 at $4.50, but with inflation and rise in construction costs its purchasing power has decreased by over 50% the past 17 years.
- According to Airports Council International’s Infrastructure Needs Survey, airports of all sizes have $100 billion in infrastructure improvements over the next five years.
- Moreover, many airports – even those with sterling credit ratings – have reached their debt capacity and either cannot finance new projects or have had to plan and construct projects over a longer time-frame, increasing the costs, and delaying the benefits for passengers.
- PFCs are not taxes – they are local user fees that are determined locally and used locally to improve the passenger experience and spur airline competition. Not one dollar of PFC revenue flows to the federal treasury. Instead, PFCs go directly to fund local airport projects approved by the FAA with input from airlines and local communities.
Collectively, airports generate more than $1.1 trillion in economic output. That’s more than seven percent of U.S. GDP. More than 1.2 million people work at U.S. airports. Airports support more than 9.6 million jobs in communities across the United States. America’s airports are a fundamental component of our nation's transportation infrastructure, annually welcoming more than 800 million passengers last year.
With total passenger numbers expected to hit one billion by 2029 action on airport infrastructure and PFC reform are long overdue. To meet the capacity demands of the future with safe, secure, efficient, and modern facilities that passengers and cargo shippers expect, airports need to make the investments to maintain and modernize our nation's airport related infrastructure.
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