Jan 14, 2020
Passenger air travel is at an all-time high. A key question for Congress is whether current levels of spending will be sufficient under existing federal policies to enable commercial service airports to make appropriate and timely infrastructure investments to meet future demand. This report contains a comprehensive review of the role of the federal government in airport infrastructure funding and financing.
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Passenger air travel in the United States is at an all-time high and is expected to continue growing for most airports of all sizes. Commercial service airports, which are publicly owned airports that serve at least 2,500 passenger boardings (enplanements) per year and that receive scheduled passenger service, handle 99.9 percent of enplanements in the United States. These airports provide the physical infrastructure — runways, terminals, gates, and other facilities — used by commercial airlines, travelers, and other air service providers.
Section 122 of the 2018 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act directed the FAA to contract with an independent research organization to address 21 questions related to infrastructure funding and financing at commercial service airports. To provide the context for addressing Congress's questions, the authors of this report provide a comprehensive review of the role of the federal government in airport infrastructure funding and financing. The authors also recommend a portfolio of changes in current federal policies related to airport infrastructure funding and highlight the need for further study of issues that may merit policy changes.
Consistent with Section 122, RAND conducted this work independently and submitted this report directly to Congress and the Secretary of Transportation in January 2020.
Historical Context and Trends in Air Travel
The Business of Airports
Status of and Trends in Airport Funding and Expenses
Federal Role in Airport Infrastructure Funding: Airport Improvement Program
Federal Role in Airport Infrastructure Funding: Passenger Facility Charge Program
Role of Bond Markets in Airport Infrastructure Funding
Assessing Future Demand and Capacity Constraints
Key Findings and Recommendations