Congressmen challenge airport funding cut

February 8, 2008

Congressmen challenge airport funding cut

By AOPA Communications staff

Congress got its first chance to question the FAA about its budget proposal for fiscal year 2009 on Feb. 7. Chairman Jerry Costello (D-Ill.) and Ranking Member Tom Petri (R-Wis.) raised significant concerns about the FAA’s request for $2.75 billion for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP)—more than $1 billion less than the House authorized in H.R.2881, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2007.

“Runways and airports are the keys to solving America’s air traffic congestion woes,” said AOPA President Phil Boyer. “It’s vital that the Airport Improvement Program be fully funded so that runways and other projects can go forward. The subcommittee members get that.”

Costello noted that under the administration’s proposal, “virtually every airport that currently receives AIP entitlement funding will have its entitlement reduced.”

In his opening statement, FAA Chief Financial Officer Ramesh Punwani reiterated that the administration believes the requested funding level, coupled with an increase in passenger facility charges at air carrier airports, would be sufficient to meet indentified goals. Costello countered, saying that he doubted any airport manager in the country would agree with the FAA’s position.

“It’s also vital that Congress pass FAA reauthorization so that the agency can begin to spend this year’s money on airport improvement projects and continue operating and modernizing the air traffic control system,” Boyer continued. “The House is showing leadership in staving off an immediate funding crisis with the introduction of a short-term measure, H.R.5270, to take us through June. Once this imminent threat is avoided, our hope is that this will be followed by Senate action on the four-year bill.”

The Senate aviation subcommittee will have its own hearing on the FAA’s budget proposal on Tuesday, Feb. 12.

February 8, 2008