US airports would receive $25 billion in funding under the infrastructure investment plan rolled out by President Joe Biden on 31 March.
The proposed economic aid comes at a critical time for airports, which have suffered significant revenue declines due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“President Biden is calling on Congress to invest $25 billion in our airports,” says an overview of the proposal released by the White House.
The money would help fund air traffic control upgrades and the government’s Airport Improvement Program, which helps airports pay for projects intended to improve safety, boost airport capacity and address environmental concerns.
Some of Biden’s proposed $25 billion would also help finance “a new programme to support terminal renovations and multi-modal connections for affordable, convenient, car-free access to air travel,” the document says. “Our airports lag far behind our competitors.”
Trade group Airports Council International chief executive Kevin Burke describes the proposed funding as a solid beginning, noting that US airports will require far more government investment in the coming years.
“Twenty-five billion will go a long way to begin the process, but won’t complete the need,” he says on 31 March during an aviation conference hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce.
Burke notes that US airports are, on average, 40 years old.
“Over the next five years we are going to need $115 billion… to bring our airports to 21st century standards,” Burke says.
Airports Council estimates the pandemic will cost US airports more than $40 billion through March 2022.
The proposed funding comes after the US government made $20 billion available to airports are part of three coronavirus-relief laws, two passed in 2020 and a third passed in March.