Unleash PFCs: Payments From Congress

Paul Bowers

Unleash PFCs: Payments From Congress

The airport market is red-hot, serving more passengers in 2016 than ever before. The Department of Transportation recently reported that U.S. airlines served a record 823 million passengers in 2016, up 3.1% from the 798 million served in 2015.

Increased passenger traffic means that airports are building and buying to keep up with higher usage. It's a never-ending cycle (hopefully). While we can't always depend on growth every year, we do know that airports need to prepare for growth as they serve more and more passengers over extended periods of time. Growth is inevitable, but the rates are less predictable. And you and I both know that it takes time to introduce updated terminals and runways. Planning begins years before we hit the wall of insufficient capacity.

What aren't inevitable are the funding sources needed to prepare for growth. To help understand the dollars needed by airports, ACI-NA has provided a report titled Airport Infrastructure Needs: 2017-2021. The report shows that airports have a collective funding need of $99.9 billion over the next five years. 

Coming up with $20 billion a year is a huge task. Asking politicians to deliver on campaign promises regarding transportation infrastructure improvements would be a long shot at best. Even if they could come up with the money, programs wouldn't be fully funded and definitely not soon enough to allow projects to start in time to meet passenger growth. No, we need to be self-reliant. And we have the means to do it.

One of the first measures needed is for Congress to eliminate the cap on Passenger Facility Charges  (PFCs). Local control of user fees and funding of individual airport needs is long overdue. Airlines have proved that ancillary fees don't tamp down traffic growth. Allowing airports to set their own PFC rates is a no-brainer for this Congress. Elected officials can take credit for solving a problem without needing to appropriate any money.  

Cheers,




# # #
 

# # #