Bill Would Provide NE Airports Greater Certainty During COVID-19 Pandemic
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, released the following statement after the committee advanced the bipartisan Airport Infrastructure Readiness (AIR) Act. This legislation, introduced by Senator Fischer earlier this month, would provide Nebraska airports with greater certainty as they consider future infrastructure projects in the midst of a pandemic. This includes Western Nebraska Regional Airport, North Platte Regional Airport, Kearney Regional Airport, Lincoln Airport, Omaha Eppley Airfield, and Central Nebraska Regional Airport in Grand Island.
“Nebraska airports need certainty so they can plan for the future during the COVID-19 pandemic. The significant drop in the number of passengers taking flights is negatively affecting how we support critical airport infrastructure, creating more uncertainty during an already turbulent time. My bipartisan bill approved by the committee addresses this problem, and I will continue to work to advance it forward,” said Senator Fischer.
The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Airport Improvement Program (AIP) provides funding to airports for projects related to aircraft operations, such as runways and taxiways and project planning. AIP funding for primary airports is based on the total number of enplanements (also known as boardings) at the airport.
The AIR Act would require FAA to calculate AIP funding for FY 2022 and FY 2023 based on either 2018 or 2019 enplanement numbers, rather than 2020 and 2021 enplanement numbers which are expected to be significantly lower because of COVID-19. This would provide stability to primary airports in Nebraska regarding what they can expect for AIP funding over the next couple of years as they plan projects. The AIR Act also waives the benefit cost analysis for airports with contract towers, like the Central Nebraska Regional Airport, for FY 2020 and FY 2021.
The full bill text is available here.