A new analysis of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) data finds that current airport construction funding levels are only half of what is necessary to make safety improvements and help reduce runway congestion.
The analysis, conducted by American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black, comes as the U.S. House and Senate are expected to debate legislation to reauthorize the FAA and the nation’s aviation programs.
The FAA awarded $3.29 billion in Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants to U.S. states and territories in 2016, ARTBA’s analysis shows. Airports used 68% of those funds — $2.26 billion — for infrastructure investments. This included the construction, rehabilitation, expansion or improvement of taxiways, aprons, runways and airport access roads.
Grants were awarded to 1,398 airports in 2016, accounting for 41% of the nearly 3,400 airports that are eligible for AIP funding. These airports have identified a total of about $6.5 billion annually — or $32.4 billion over the next five years — for projects that could be eligible for AIP grants, according to FAA. Current AIP funding will only cover half of the cost of all potential projects.
“These types of projects and other airport infrastructure needs can be addressed by increasing Airport Improvement Program investment — which has be held flat for the past six years — and increasing or lifting the cap on the passenger facility charge,” Black says. “We think both are needed and needed now.”
States receiving the most grants in 2016 included:
- California ($262M)
- Texas ($243.8M)
- Alaska ($215M)
- Illinois ($179.6M)
- Florida ($178.4M)
- New York ($130M)
- Georgia ($94M)
- Colorado ($79.6M)
- Louisiana ($77.7M)
- Missouri ($77.7M)
Grants ranged between $15,000 and $36 million, averaging $1.86 million per project. About one-third were for $1 million or more. The largest 2016 AIP grant was $36 million to improve the runway safety area at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
Other major airports using AIP grants for runway construction and rehabilitation included: Chicago O’Hare International (ORD), Ted Stevens Anchorage International (ANC), Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County (DTW) and Dallas-Fort Worth International (DFW).
Historically, primary airports receive most of the AIP funding, accounting for 69% of the value of grants in 2016. Projects were also funded at general aviation (20%), reliever (7%) and commercial service airports (4%).
Major airports that have identified AIP eligible projects over the next five years are:
- Chicago O’Hare International (ORD, $741M)
- George Bush Intercontinental/Houston (IAH, $626M)
- Charlotte/Douglas International (CLT, $511M)
- Tampa International (TPA, $477M)
- LaGuardia (LGA, $436M)
- Los Angeles International (LAX, $389M)
- Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International (FLL, $381M)
- Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall (BWI, $357M)
- Philadelphia International (PHL, $323M)
- San Diego International (SAN, $313M)