FAA Funding Looks To Trust Fund

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Reducing major airport congestion and refocusing on aviation safety goals underpin a $14 billion reauthorization budget for the FAA for fiscal year 2004. The budget, which is marginally larger than the $13.6 billion budget for FY 2003, will take a bigger bite out of the Airport and Airway Trust Fund but there will be no new user fees. The budget has been proposed by the White House and must now be debated and ratified by Congress. Deputy Transportation Secretary Michael Jackson said it's now time to pick up the pre-9/11 focus on safety. "We cannot take our eye off the safety goals [to] reduce aviation fatality rates by 80 percent over the period 1996 to 2008," Jackson said. Of the FAA's $7.6 billion in annual operating funds, Jackson said $7.1 billion goes toward activities directly related to safety, including inspections, flight procedures and air traffic control. The FAA is asking for $3.4 billion in the Airport Improvement Program to build new runways with a goal of increasing daily arrivals from 47,000 to 49,000. Another $2.9 billion is proposed for new equipment to modernize the National Airspace System. Even though revenues to the Airport and Airway Trust Fund have declined because of the economy, the White House proposes to increase the draw on the fund from 76 percent to 88 percent over the four-year reauthorization period.