Airports across the U.S. will need $100 billion in
infrastructure upgrades over the next five years to rehabilitate existing
facilities and to keep pace with growth in passenger and cargo traffic.
So says the trade group Airport Council International-North
America (ACI-NA) in a semiannual report released Tuesday.
"The longer we delay, America's airports will fall
behind and our infrastructure needs become more expensive to fix. Time is of
the essence," wrote ACI-NA CEO Kevin Burke in the intro to the report,
titled "Airport Infrastructure Needs 2017-2021."
The report comes out as ACI-NA senses an opportunity under
President Trump, who has mentioned airport improvements prominently when
discussing his promise to pour $1 trillion into upgrading the nation's
In fact, ACI-NA first revealed its $100 billion estimate on
Feb. 9 as aviation industry executives met with Trump. While the president is
sympathetic to airport investment, he was quick to tell airport officials that
day that he is not disposed to funding such improvements with an increase in
The ACI-NA, supported by the organized travel lobby,
supports abolishment of the cap on the passenger facility charge (PFC). The cap
is $4.50 per flight segment and has been in place since 2000. Airports use the
PFC to for improvement projects.
In developing its $100 billion needs estimate over the next
five years, ACI-NA surveyed airports of all sizes and incorporated data from
the FAA's most recent National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems report, which
was released in October. It made other adjustments, including for inflation.
The organization found that the need for the coming five
years jumped nearly $25 billion since the 2015 ACI-NA study. Terminal buildings
account for $38 billion of the need. Another $19 billion will be necessary for
airfield improvements. The need for surface access to airports is $13 billion
in the next five years. And airport reconstruction, including major projects in
Salt Lake City and New Orleans, will cost $15 billion.
Large hubs account for more than 60% of airports'
infrastructure need in the next five years. Los Angeles International identified
$10 billion in projects alone.
The ACI-NA's five-year estimate dwarfs the FAA's October
estimate of $32.5 billion. ACI-NA said several factors account for that
difference. The FAA's report includes only projects that have not identified
funding sources while the ACI-NA's includes all projects. Also, the FAA report
only includes projects that would be eligible for federal Airport Improvement
Program grants, thereby leaving out hangars, cargo facilities,
revenue-producing portions of passenger terminals and parking facilities, among
In addition, the ACI-NA report accounts for inflation and
project contingency costs. The FAA report does not, ACI-NA said.