Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
AIP Grant Final Rollout
Thursday, September 27, 2018
Thank you all for coming. Let me give a special shout out to the grant recipients who have come here from all over the country -- from as far as Juneau, Alaska to Rangeley, Maine and points in between. Our guests know how important these grants are to their small rural communities. Airports can be a lifeline to the rest of the country. This is literally true with Rangeley whose airport enables vital medical flight services. The competition for these AIP grants was very strong. And it took a tremendous effort by the FAA team, including the Acting Associate Administrator for Airports, Winsome Lenfort to process all of the grants on schedule. So, congratulations to you all.
And let me also give a special welcome to Rep. Sam Graves. I want to recognize his national leadership in respect to general aviation and overall rural access. Not only is he a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, he is also co-chair of the House General Aviation Caucus. We are fortunate to have him here with us to share some of his thoughts.
We’re here today to announce a new round of much-needed grants to strengthen our country’s airport infrastructure. As many of you know, aviation is reaching new heights. Domestic and foreign carriers serving the United States carried an all-time high of 965.0 million domestic and international passengers in 2017. This was 3.4 percent more than the previous record high of 933.1 million reached in 2016. And that number is predicted to continue climbing. Worldwide, air travel is expected to nearly double from 4 billion passengers in 2017 to 7.8 billion by 2036.
This growth is generating more jobs, and more opportunities. According to the FAA’s most recent economic analysis, U.S. civil aviation accounts for $1.6 trillion in total economic activity and supports nearly 11 million jobs. This is good news. But the increase in air travel also places increasing demands upon our aviation infrastructure, air traffic management systems, and the personnel who fly, maintain and operate aircraft.
To help address the need for improved aviation infrastructure – especially in rural communities – today I am announcing $205 million in supplemental funding for Airport Improvement Program grants. This will fund grants to 37 airports in 34 states. The improvements include runways, taxiways, aprons, terminals, and other infrastructure projects.
Here’s the breakdown:
- Twenty-six (26) grants totaling $151.4 million are being awarded to Small and Non-hub primary airports.
- Eleven (11) grants totaling $53.7 million are being awarded to non-primary airports.
- Of the 37 grants awarded, eleven are for runways, eight are for taxiways, 7 are for aprons, 4 are for terminal projects and seven are for other types of projects.
These grants will help revitalize and strengthen critical infrastructure projects at smaller and rural airports in a number of ways. These upgraded aviation facilities will help smaller communities attract new businesses, support air travel, and provide new job opportunities. And most importantly, these improvements will not only expand airport capacity, but improve safety as well, which as you know is my number one priority. AIP grants can provide many other benefits to rural communities as well, which several of our speakers will comment upon.
Let me note that this funding is in addition to the $3.31 billion already awarded nationwide in Airport Improvement Program (AIP) formula funding.
And now to our first very special guest, Rep. Sam Graves, who will share with us how these AIP grants will benefit rural communities in his home state of Missouri. Trenton Municipal Airport in Trenton, MO, will receive $1.2 million to reconstruct and expand its apron. Joplin Regional Airport in Joplin, MO, will receive $7.5 million to rebuild several taxiway components. Overall, Missouri is receiving $64.4 million in grants, of which $55.7 million is in AIP formula dollars, and an additional $8.7 is provided in supplemental AIP funding.
We will also hear from Stephen Philbrick, the Chairman of the Board of Selectmen in the town of Rangeley. This town of 1,100 owns and operates the Stephen A. Bean Municipal Airport. The airport is receiving an $11 million supplemental grant for runway and safety improvements. Among other things, the improvements will support emergency aeromedical flight services, which are needed in this remote community.
The AIP program will continue to provide supplemental AIP grants through 2020 to strengthen the safety and efficiency of America’s airports. These funds, along with regular AIP grant funds, will help America’s 3,323 airports strengthen the country’s competitiveness and improve the quality of life for both travelers and American businesses that rely upon time-critical delivery of goods and services. It will help our aviation system maintain its position as the world’s gold standard for aviation safety and efficiency. And it helps address America’s infrastructure needs.
Thank you, Bailey.
I want to thank everyone for coming this afternoon. The Department of Transportation understands the need for infrastructure that increases safety, expands mobility, grows our country’s economy, and enriches the quality of life of all Americans. Your attendance today helps reaffirm the important role Aviation infrastructure plays in the effort to renew and rebuild America’s infrastructure. So, thank you once again, for joining us at this event.
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