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NEWS Last modified on March 1, 2019

ACI-NA warns that US airports are 'terminally challenged' with infrastructure needs

A new ACI-NA report detailing the significant infrastructure needs of America’s airports reveals that the country's gateways are facing more than $128 billion in new infrastructure needs across the system and a debt burden of $91.6 billion from past projects. 

It's response to the figures is to issue a rallying call, claiming that it is time to find the means to rebuild the US's aviation infrastructure and improve the passenger experience for millions of travellers.

“The results are in and it is painfully clear that airports are terminally challenged,” states ACI-NA president and CEO, Kevin Burke. 

“Inadequate airport infrastructure that fails to meet the growing needs of local businesses and tourists puts in jeopardy the continued economic growth of American cities, states, and regions.
LAX runway
"Airports are experiencing record growth, but aging and outdated infrastructure threatens their ability to serve their passengers and local communities.”

The study, Terminally Challenged: Addressing the Infrastructure Funding Shortfall of America’s Airports, estimates airport infrastructure needs over the next five years total $128.1 billion, or $25.6 billion annualised, to accommodate increasing passenger and cargo traffic, rehabilitate existing facilities, and support aircraft innovation.

This reflects a more than 28% increase since 2017, and a 80% increase since 2013. Terminal projects account for nearly 56% of infrastructure needs of all responding airports.

“Airports need additional resources to build the terminals, gates, and ramps necessary to attract new air carriers and allow existing ones to expand service," says Burke.

"The travelling public gets more choices, lower airfares, and a better overall customer experience when airports can build the facilities that provide more airline options and more service alternatives.”

According to ACI-NA, America’s airports lack the necessary resources to modernise and expand outdated infrastructure, which is essential to ensure a safe, efficient, and competitive aviation system.
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It points out that the $25.6 billion in average annual funding needs for US airports is significantly higher than the funding available through the existing system.

In addition to the impact on local economies, deferred airport investment over the past two decades has challenged the ability of airports to deal with the evolving threats posed to aviation security.

In terms of solutions, ACI-NA claims that modernising the federal cap on the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) would provide airports with the self-help they need to finance vital infrastructure projects.

Airports, it says, could build the appropriate facilities – terminals, gates, baggage systems, security checkpoints, roadways, and runways – to meet the travel demands and customer expectations of their community.

“Fortunately, we can rebuild America’s airports without raising taxes or adding to deficit spending by modernizing the federal cap on the PFC,” adds Burke.

“Modestly adjusting the federal cap on local PFCs would allow airports to take control of their own investment decisions and become more financially self-sufficient.”

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