California Airports Join Together to Form California Airports Council

December 3, 2009

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 3 /PRNewswire/ — The Executive Directors and CEO’s of California’s 30 commercial airports have formed a statewide airport consortium, the California Airports Council (CAC), it was announced today. “Airports play a critical role in the fabric of the state’s economy, providing billions in revenue and tens of thousands of jobs statewide,” said John Martin, executive director of San Francisco International Airport and president of the organization.

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For instance, with a single daily international flight to California from Asia, the state can expect to realize an additional $5 million to $7 million in state and local tax revenues and the creation of more than 1,000 new jobs, according to independent assessments. Ensuring that California’s airports are ready to meet the growing demand for trade and tourism is one of the critical goals of the new council.

The air travel industry’s importance to California’s transportation and economic future prompted the group to organize itself, and it will dedicate its work to advocacy and education on issues facing commercial airports. The council will serve as a resource for Federal, state and local policymakers.

Mayors from three of California’s largest cities — Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose — all applaud the leadership of the airport directors in forming the Council. Their support will help to ensure that this important economic engine remain a dynamic force in the state’s economy.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said, “The California Airports Council provides an important vehicle for collaboration on major challenges, such as moving an increase to the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) through Congress. An increase is necessary to finance modernization as well as safety and security projects to protect passengers and planes.”

Among the high-priority issues for the CAC is passage of the pending Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Bill, which contains several issues key to airport operations and California’s local and regional economies. Those issues include:

Passenger Facility Charge – The CAC is seeking (1) an increase in the PFC cap to $7.50 (from $4.50); and (2) indexing for inflation to allow the PFC cap to keep pace with increasing capital costs. Airports hoping to implement an increase in the PFC report that the new funding would allow them to invest an additional $2 billion in infrastructure development projects over the next 10 years and create approximately 15,000 new jobs for Californians.

Currently, U.S. airports may include a PFC of up to $4.50 to each passenger ticket to help finance local airport-related projects, including terminal enhancements, gate expansions, noise abatement efforts and public transit systems at airports. The $4.50 cap was set by Congress in 2000. PFCs cannot be used by airports to fund non-airline revenue efforts, such as retail or parking facilities. Each airport has discretion to set its own PFC rate depending on the local needs and desires of the community.

Escalating construction costs are one of the main reasons the CAC is requesting the PFC cap be raised. For example, San Francisco International Airport has been hit especially hard by increased costs for critical airfield facilities since the PFC was last raised in 2000. Since then, the cost of runway reconstruction has increased 87 percent from $201 to $377 per square foot; taxiway reconstruction has increased 88 percent from $161 to $304 per square foot; and a simple runway light has increased in cost from $900 to $1,700, an 89 percent increase.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said, “San Francisco International Airport continues to maintain strong passenger growth, and we rely on PFC dollars to finance and construct new airport projects; which in turn create good paying jobs.”

PFC Inflation Index — Indexing the PFC for inflation would avoid the need for Congressional action to address the diminished effectiveness of a static PFC over time. For example, if indexing had been included in 2000, when Congress last increased the PFC, it would now be set at $8.00 and there would be no need to increase the cap. The House has already acted to provide an increase to $7.00 (without indexing) in its FAA reauthorization bill. The CAC plans to work with Congress to implement a more robust increase and to allow PFCs to keep pace with inflation.

“Increasing the PFC would allow San Jose to make further investments that improve the convenience and competitiveness of our airport for Silicon Valley businesses and residents,” said Mineta San Jose International Airport’s Director Bill Sherry and CAC Treasurer. “A three-dollar increase in the PFC would let us catch up with inflation over the past 10 years and provide more than $11 million annually for essential capital improvements.”

Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting Regulations – The CAC is opposed to increased mandates for Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting regulations. The costs to comply with the proposed regulations for small and regional airports could jeopardize regional service at California airports. By diverting scarce revenues to stand-by emergency response capabilities, the core mission of small airports to provide commercial air travel to their community is at risk. For example, the Arcata/Eureka regional airport in Humboldt County would incur $500,000 in additional operating costs, while the Fresno would incur mandated costs of $2.4 million annually.

“California’s airports help drive our state’s economy and create jobs for our people,” said San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed. “That’s why we’ve invested $1.3 billion to modernize our own airport here in San Jose. The CAC will magnify the voices of our state’s airports and our cities as we work to restore prosperity in the decades to come.”

“Sacramento County recognizes the need for all California airports to communicate collectively for the continued economic health of this important industry. California’s airports are critical economic engines for our communities and joining together to create the new California Airports Council is a very worthwhile effort,” said Susan Peters, chair of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors.

“Bob Hope Airport believes the California Airports Council will be a welcome addition to the public dialogue on aviation and transportation policy issues. By speaking as a group, the CAC has an opportunity to reach a broad audience throughout the state on matters of importance to all of us,” Joyce Streator, president of the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority.

Jim Lites, was recently hired to serve as the CAC Executive Director. Lites brings over 20 years of public policy and transportation experience to the CAC.

Those airports participating in the CAC are:

  • Arcata/Eureka Airport (AVC)
  • Burbank – Bob Hope Airport (BUR)
  • Carlsbad/McLellan/Palomar Airport (CRQ)
  • Charles M. Schulz – Sonoma County Airport (STS)
  • Chico Municipal Airport (CIC)
  • Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT)
  • Imperial County Airport (IPL)
  • Inyokern County Airport (IYK)
  • John Wayne Airport – Orange County (SNA)
  • Kern County Department of Airports (BFL)
  • Long Beach Airport (LGB)
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • Merced Regional Airport (MCE)
  • Modesto City-County Airport (MOD)
  • Monterey Peninsula Airport (MRY)
  • Norman Y. Mineta San Jose Airport
  • Oakland International Airport (OAK)
  • Ontario International Airport (ONT)
  • Palm Springs International Airport (PSP)
  • Redding Municipal Airport (RDD)
  • Sacramento International Airport (SMF)
  • San Diego County Regional Airport (SAN)
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  • San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport (SBP)
  • Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (SBA)
  • Santa Maria Public Airport (SMX)
  • Stockton Metropolitan Airport (SCK)
  • Ventura County Department of Airports (OXR)
  • Visalia Municipal Airport (VIS)

The Council will meet on a regular basis at various airports throughout the state.

SOURCE Los Angeles World Airports

Source: newswire

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