FAA Budget: NextGen Wins, Big Airports Lose
The White House on Monday released its budget proposal for the next fiscal year, and so far general aviation advocacy groups are finding not much to complain about -- no sign of user fees, and funding for GA airport improvements and NextGen remains intact. "This is a long and extraordinarily complex document, and a complete review of all the language and nuances takes time," AOPA President Craig Fuller said on Monday. "But our initial reading indicates that the president has recognized the need to modernize our aviation system while maintaining critical infrastructure -- all funded by a tried-and-true system of excise taxes and general fund contributions. All of us in the general aviation community find this encouraging." Not so happy, though, were advocates for larger airports, which take a serious hit in the administration's proposal.
Airports Council International - North America expressed concern on Monday about a line item that would reduce funding for improvements at large and medium hub airports. The proposal would cut airport improvement program (AIP) grants by $1.1 billion, down to $2.4 billion. Funding for smaller GA fields would remain intact. "Airports' top priority is to operate safe, secure and efficient facilities," said ACI-NA President Greg Principato. "By gutting the AIP, the Administration's budget proposal fails to provide the resources necessary to provide safe and secure facilities that reduce passenger delays and inconvenience." NBAA said it will send representatives to a stakeholder meeting to be held soon by the Transportation Department to review the budget document -- which is nearly 1,000 pages long -- and until then will continue reviewing the proposal. In his address to Congress, President Barack Obama said that "quality infrastructure," including airports, is essential to economic growth.