Air Transport Association of America (ATA) CEO James May believes US legislators should renew a FAA funding extension that expires 6 March for roughly eight additional months to allow for the development of "innovative" mechanisms to fund the agency.

The US Congress has approved several extensions to fund FAA since its long-term reauthorization for programmes covering fiscal years 2008 through 2011 expired last year.

A controversial user fee proposal for funding of the US next generation air traffic control system is one reason for reauthorization remaining stalled in Congress. The House of Representatives passed its version of the bill in September 2007 without the proposal and the Senate has yet to agree its version of the legislation.

Addressing the National Aeronautic Association today May said ATA is joining Senator John Rockefeller in urging for alternative ways for funding of projects included in reauthorization.

Of particular interest to May is tax credit bonding that's been used successfully in surface transportation projects. While the Bush administration opposes that type of funding, May tells ATI the ATA has held discussions with the transition team of President-elect Obama regarding the issue. He declined to elaborate on those talks.

Tax credit bonds are essentially public-private partnerships that offer tax incentives for investors in a given project.

May believes those types of bonds could help bridge the gap between competing interests in the industry.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news