Bolen tells congress: airports are a national priority
June 18, 2014, Washington, D.C. - Sustained investment in the United State's airport infrastructure, and a continuing view of all airports as part of a national aviation-transportation network, are paramount to maintaining America's world-leading aviation system, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen told lawmakers in written testimony submitted at a congressional hearing today.
"Airports are a key component in our transportation system, and they are a very important element in business aviation operations," Bolen said in his testimony, provided for a hearing on airport financing and development held by the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Aviation. "There are about 5,000 public-use airports in the U.S., and business aircraft are able to fly into most of them. Business aviation relies heavily on secondary and tertiary airports.
"It's worth noting that these smaller airports don’t just benefit business aviation," Bolen added. "Local airports serve a critical role in supporting flights for schools, universities, agricultural services, emergency medical services, postal services, fire and rescue teams, law enforcement and other services. The airports are also local economic engines, bringing people and goods from communities to national and global markets, stimulating local economic growth."
Bolen identified three key priorities for maintaining and enhancing the nation’s airport system, including a strong federal commitment to the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) – a funding mechanism that recognizes changing needs at airports, including demand, the types and sizes of aircraft using an airport, and necessary safety and efficiency improvements.
Airports must also be equipped to meet national economic and other objectives, Bolen added. "Like other modes of transportation, airports big and small are economic engines for communities, encouraging business investment and creating opportunities for economic growth," he said, adding that congress should take "all necessary steps" to protect and maintain both commercial and general aviation (GA) airports.
Bolen also emphasized that federal support for these airports must include continuing opposition to local attempts to curb access to, or close facilities.
"Given that we view our system as a national one in terms of funding decisions, it also stands to reason that we should view it as a national one when it comes to operational matters," he stated. "However, over the years, attempts have been made to create new restrictions and impediments for aviation users through airport curfews and other local initiatives to restrict access to airports."
In conclusion, Bolen thanked members of the subcommittee for their continued focus on aviation, and airports, as a national asset.
"One of our nation's greatest strengths is the size, diversity, efficiency and safety of our aviation system, and the members of this subcommittee understand the central role of America's national airport network in that system," he said.