WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, released the following statement after her bipartisan AIR Act was included in COVID relief passed by Congress yesterday. The AIR Act will provide airports with greater certainty in planning future infrastructure projects:
“The outbreak of COVID-19 led to significantly fewer flights out of many Nebraska airports, which put them at risk of receiving far less federal infrastructure formula funding. As such, I am pleased that my AIR Act was included in the COVID relief package that recently passed Congress. It will provide Nebraska airports with the certainty they need to plan for future projects,” said Senator Fischer.
“As airports in Nebraska continue to deal with the significant negative impact on aviation from the COVID-19 pandemic, this bill, including provisions from the AIR Act introduced by Senator Fischer, provides important stability for critical federal funding and welcome relief for airports, including Eppley Airfield, during this period of continued uncertainty,” said Dave Roth, Executive Director of the Omaha Airport Authority which oversees Eppley Airfield (OMA).
“This legislation is vital to small airports across the county who depend on the million dollar AIP appropriation from the FAA. This money allows Western Nebraska Regional Airport to continue to keep up with all the safety requirements required by the FAA for commercial service airports. Without this money, airports like WNRA would not be able to continue the high level of safety that is key to the nationwide air transportation network. Congratulations, Senator Fischer, on getting this legislation passed and thank you so much for all you do for WNRA and all the other airports in Nebraska. We could not keep our current levels of service without all your efforts,” said Raul Aguallo, Director of the Western Nebraska Regional Airport in Scottsbluff.
“The City of Kearney, similar to may airports has seen reduced passenger traffic and revenue related to the Covid pandemic and this important legislation provides much needed financial assistance moving forward to ensure airports are prepared for future increased passenger demand,” said Michael Morgan, City Manager of Kearney.
“Airports continue to struggle as the Covid 19 virus persists. Protecting our future Federal funding despite our historic low passenger levels is paramount. Senator Fischer’s leadership in protecting future capital investments for Nebraska’s airports is very well received at the Central Nebraska Regional Airport. Her proposed ‘Airport Infrastructure Readiness Act of 2020’ was included in the stimulus plan approved by congress last night. We appreciate her leadership in protecting future federal grants for airports in Nebraska,” said Michael Olson, Executive Director of the Hall County Airport Authority in Grand Island.
“Like so many businesses impacted by unprecedented declines in both demand and revenue as a result of COVID 19, the Lincoln Airport continues to look for ways to serve the needs of our patrons and community while simultaneously seeking to provide employment security for our team. I sincerely appreciate Sen. Fischer’s efforts in helping to represent airports and the larger aviation community through the provision of vital revenue stability aimed at protecting both jobs and critical infrastructure,” said from David Haring, Executive Director of the Lincoln Airport Authority.
The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Airport Improvement Program (AIP) provides funding to airports for projects related to aircraft operations, such as runways, 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 will 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 will 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 text is available here.