The Airports Council International-North America released the findings of its latest economic impact study Sept. 8 during its annual conference at the World Congress Center in Atlanta.
According to the study, titled The Economic Impact of Commercial Airports in 2013, airports in the U.S. are responsible for an annual output of more than $1 trillion and for 7 percent of the nation’s gross national product and 6 percent of its workforce.
During a news conference, Kevin M. Burke, the ACI-NA’s president and CEO, said that individually airports are key in providing economic growth in local markets where they are located.
Mr Burke said that he is actively working to expand the organization’s influence through a wide array of coalitions including with the National Council of State Legislators.
“Airports don’t get the credit they deserve,” he said. “It’s very helpful to get the local legislators involved because the development of airports nationally becomes a local issue.”
Given the growth of the airline industry and the increased demand on airports, the council is actively supporting increased funding for airport capital improvements through Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Fees collected through the controversial Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) Program allow a charge of $4.50 for every boarded passenger at commercial airports controlled by public agencies.
Mr. Burke said that these fees are key to funding the improvements necessary for public safety and that the council is seeking to raise the charge to $8.50, which given inflation and cost increases would bring them back to a level in place in 2000.
Resistance in the U.S. Congress from anti-big government legislators is based on a lack of awareness that the benefits of the fees are local and reinforce local economies, he said.
The Washingon-based ACI-NA is the North American arm of ACI World, the umbrella for similar organizations in five regions, which act independently.
More than 1,800 attendees and 200 exhibitors registered for the conference, which concludes Wednesday, Sept. 10, with a speech by Richard Anderson, CEO, of Delta Air Lines Inc. and a tour of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
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