President Signs FAA Bill

by Leslie Wollack

Last week, President Obama signed a $63 billion bill providing funding for the federal airport program, after 23 short-term extensions and a bitter dispute that shut down Federal Aviation Administration programs last summer. The original bill expired in September 2007.

The three-year bill funds $3.5 billion in local airport improvement grants and contains funding for the Essential Air Services program, also at the center of controversy between the House and Senate. The EAS program provides grants for smaller airports that would not otherwise receive commercial air services.

House members had voted to end the EAS program, which funds 150 airports across the country and is supported by NLC. 
The bill does not contain an increase in passenger facility charges from the current $4.50 to underwrite airport infrastructure improvements, an NLC priority in the bill.

President Obama's budget proposal for fiscal year 2013 would reduce airport improvement grants to $2 billion targeted to smaller airports and provide more tools for large airports to raise revenue.