Airports are significant economic drivers for the communities where they are located. They directly affect commerce, tourism and trade and their impact on local and regional economies is considerable.
Yet, many are suffering from crumbling infrastructure and are in need of repairs and upgrades.
Because most communities lack the funding needed for airport upgrades, grants from the Federal Aviation Administration's Airport Improvement Program (AIP) provide welcome financial assistance.
New funding was just announced and it will be used to complete overdue projects to restore, maintain and expand aviation facilities from coast to coast.
Indeed, in the last few weeks, the FAA has awarded more than $335 million in AIP grant funding to 237 airports…and more will be forthcoming.
The funding will not only improve airports, it will open up a myriad of contracting opportunities for private-sector firms. It will also create new jobs and stimulate regional economies.
Funding that has been granted will result in project work that includes runways, taxiways, airport signage, lighting and markings. The grant funds may also be used for security, construction, planning and environmental work related to airport facilities.
Qualifying airports are entitled to a certain amount of AIP funding each year, based on passenger volume.
If the FAA determines that an airport’s capital project needs exceed its available entitlement funds, the FAA can supplement an entitlement with discretionary funding. Five airports were recently approved for discretionary grants.
The largest discretionary grant was a $14.6 million award to the Orange County Airport in Montgomery, NY. The money will be used to realign an existing runway to create a standard safety area. Additional work will include realigning the parallel taxiway and connector taxiways.
While Los Angeles International Airport was awarded $11 million in discretionary funds to construct Taxiway T, which will connect the north and south runway complexes. Additionally, work will be done to construct the east and west aircraft parking aprons at the Tom Bradley International Terminal building.
The Sioux County Regional Airport in Iowa was granted a $4.7 million discretionary grant to help complete construction of a new airport that will replace the Orange City Municipal Airport and the Sioux Center Municipal Airport.
A sampling of other entitlement grants includes:
- Boise Air Terminal/Gowen Field - $3.67 million to rehabilitate the Air Rescue and Firefighting Building;
- Eppley Airfield in Omaha - $4.18 million to reconstruct an apron;
- Upshur County Regional Airport in West Virginia - $67,500 to construct a terminal building;
- Clarence E. Page Municipal Airport in Oklahoma City - $82,581 to install weather reporting equipment;
- Huntsville (Ala.) International-Carl T. Jones Field - $3.176 million to rehabilitate the terminal building;
- El Paso International Airport - $11.6 million to reconstruct a runway;
- Portland International Airport - $2.5 million to improve airport drainage;
- Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport - $1.73 million for security enhancements;
- Bert Mooney Airport in Butte, Mont. - $550,000 to construct a terminal building; and
- Greenville Spartanburg International Airport in South Carolina - $1.2 million to update the airport master plan study.
Additional AIP grants will be announced in the coming weeks.
Officials hope to take advantage of the spring/summer construction season so that the grant projects can be completed or at least under construction before the winter season arrives.
• Author, Mary Scott Nabers is president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc., a business development company specialising in government contracting and procurement consulting throughout the US