The annual Department of Transportation/Federal Aviation Administration appropriations bill establishes funding levels for a number of key airport priorities including the Airport Improvement Program; ATC modernization; airport-related research including the Airport Cooperative Research Program; the Small Community Air Service Development Program; Essential Air Service; the Contract Tower Program and Contract Tower Cost-Sharing Program; and FAA-related environmental review work, among others. Additionally, the DOT/FAA spending bill has become the vehicle for ensuring that FAA continues to pay for the space the agency uses in airport-owned buildings.
As Congress considers the Fiscal Year 2020 spending bill for the Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration, AAAE and airports around the country are urging Congress to increase Airport Improvement Program funding and take other steps to help airport finance their infrastructure projects. Airports are also pressing lawmakers to help small communities by fully funding the Contract Tower, Essential Air Service, and Small Community Air Service Development Programs.
Airports successfully convinced Congress to appropriate a total of $1.5 billion in additional AIP funding over the past two fiscal years. But a three-peat is uncertain since a two-year budget deal, which opened the door for additional infrastructure funding, expires at the end of current fiscal year in October. It is unclear if Congress and the administration will agree to another broad budget deal that could stall planned budget cuts and create an opportunity for additional investments in airports and other infrastructure needs.