By Dean Franks, senior vice president, congressional relations, ARTBA

A federal aviation program reauthorization bill authored by House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) and released April 13 would maintain Airport Improvement Program (AIP) investment at the $3.35 billion level where it has been frozen since 2012. The measure defies action taken in 2016 and 2107 by T&I Committee members on separate aviation bills where panel members overwhelmingly voted to increase AIP investment. The measure is set for House floor consideration the week of April 23.

Representatives Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) championed the efforts to increase AIP investment during those committee sessions. The Barletta-Graves-Lipinski amendment steadily grew AIP investment to $4 billion by year six of those bills.

The aviation programs are currently operating under a temporary extension that lasts through September 30. The aviation program reauthorization process has been held up for years as Shuster attempted, unsuccessfully, to gain support to quasi-privatize the nation’s air traffic control system. When it became clear the support was not there to push the effort forward, Shuster and congressional leaders agreed to jettison the air traffic control reform piece.

Beyond holding AIP investment flat, the bill does not modernize the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC), a user fee airports charge passengers in order to make airport capital improvements. The PFC has remained at $4.50 since the year 2000.

As the process moves forward, ARTBA will move to ensure both an increase in the AIP funding levels and the PFC are included in the final authorization bill being sent to the President for his signature.