Department of Transportation Appropriations

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.  

When Congress considered the Fiscal Year 2020 spending bill for the Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration, AAAE and airports around the country urged Congress to increase Airport Improvement Program funding and take other steps to help airport finance their infrastructure projects.  Airports are also pressed lawmakers to help small communities by fully funding the Contract Tower, Essential Air Service, and Small Community Air Service Development Programs.  


FY20 Appropriations:  In December 2019, lawmakers passed two packages of must-pass appropriations bills including one (H.R. 1865) that contained funding for the Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration and other federal agencies.  The measure includes an extra $400 million for airport infrastructure projects in addition to $3.35 billion in “regular” AIP funding.  The latest annual funding bill brings the total supplemental discretionary funding for airports to just under $2 billion over the past three fiscal years.

The final FY20 spending bill includes a $170 million for the Contract Tower Program – a $2 million increase from the previous year – and $10 million for the Small Community Air Service Development program.  The bill also contains $162 million in appropriated funds for EAS.  Coupled with an estimated $150.5 million from overflight fees, the overall funding level for EAS would be approximately $312.5 million in FY 2020.

Related Information

• A list of AAAE priorities for the FY 2020 DOT/FAA funding bill may viewed here.
• A side-by-side that compares the House- and Senate-passed versions of the FY20 DOT appropriations bills with the final spending package may be viewed here.


Brad Van Dam
Senior Vice President, Government Affairs
(703) 797-2534