It is often said that Raleigh-Durham International Airport is one of the region’s economic drivers. But what does this mean?
Each year, RDU contributes more than $8 billion a year to the region’s economy, serving 9.5 million passengers a year and supporting 20,000 jobs. We’re both an economic driver and a partner in regional economic development.
That economic return requires investment, particularly to maintain and improve our $1.5 billion infrastructure – terminals, runways and facilities.
RDU funds these improvements by carefully balancing the limited mix of public and private funding sources available to us.
Two of our key funding sources will be considered by Congress this year in the 2015 Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Bill.
In anticipation of this bill, RDU and other N.C. commercial airports met with our Congressional delegation in Washington, D.C. recently to enlist their support of the legislation and the key investments it offers to ensure we can build and maintain RDU for the future.
The first is the Airport Improvement Program, which provides a base of federal funding airports can use to fund airport improvements.
The second – and most critical for RDU – is the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC), a user fee we set locally but that federal regulation caps.
PFCs Decline While Costs Grow
The PFC has not been adjusted in 15 years, and its purchasing power has declined by half. This puts RDU in a challenging position.
RDU needs roughly $30 million a year to maintain its infrastructure. The AIP provides about $4.1 million a year and the PFC generates only $20 million a year. Combined, the two are not sufficient to cover our current facility requirements. Meanwhile, RDU’s facility needs continue to grow. We expect to need $100 million to rebuild our 10,000-foot, 30-year-old runway within the next decade.
We left with our Congressional representatives information that explains why it is critical for RDU to be able to fund its infrastructure capital projects and why our needs require a fully funded AIP and higher cap on the PFC, indexed to inflation.
You can help by asking U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, U.S. Sen. John Thune, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, and your Congressional delegation to support the bill when it is considered later this year.
RDU asks Congress specifically to pass the 2015 FAA Reauthorization Bill with these key provisions:
- Modernize the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) from $4.50 to $8.50 and index the cap for inflation. These fees are the most efficient way for local airports to fund infrastructure improvements.
- Maintain the Airport Improvement Program as a base of federal funding that airports can use to build and repair runways, taxiways and other airfield projects.
You can reach Rep. Shuster and Sen. Thune by calling their offices or writing a letter: