By Dean Franks, vice president of congressional affairs, ARTBA

The U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee is expected to take up its revamp of federal aviation programs in February, with action by the full chamber possible very soon after.

Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) has signaled his desire to make major policy changes with how the nation’s air traffic control system functions and who administers the program.  He favors a new public-private partnership of sorts that, in theory, would help make modernization and efficiency efforts more seamless.  While the bill has not been released, many members of Congress and stakeholder groups are taking a “wait and see” approach to the proposal.

Senate transportation leaders have not indicated a timeline for action on their version of an aviation bill.

The ARTBA co-chaired Transportation Construction Coalition sent Jan. 14 letters to House and Senate transportation committee leaders to explain the needs for capital improvements at airports.  The letters call on Congress to support increased investment through the Airport Improvement Program (AIP)—a capital grant program widely used to federally fund core airport infrastructure; and an increase in the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC)—a user fee administered by airports to allow for investment in additional enhancements beyond capital development.  The PFC has not been increased since 2000. AIP funding peaked in FY 2006, and has been stationary or decreasing ever since.

ARTBA and its coalition partners will continue to advocate for increased capital investment as the process moves forward and will ensure that critical programs like AIP are not left behind as other policy matters take center stage.