FAA Receives Another Short-term Funding Plan

Long-term funding authorization for the FAA will have to wait. Last week, Congress passed a bill mandating yet another short-term temporary funding strategy. This one extends through the end of March next year — a total of three months from the expiration of the current funding that expires at the end of this month. Congress has funded FAA with a series of extensions since its last long-term funding authorization expired in 2007. The current extension continues the policy of collecting funds for the Airport and Airway Trust Fund via airline ticket taxes and general aviation fuel taxes. Last May, the House passed a long-term re-authorization bill that did not include user fees, an issue that sharply divides the airline industry (in favor of user fees) and general aviation interests (which prefers to continue with the current funding protocol). In its annual appropriations funding for 2010, Congress allocated $3.515 billion for the Airport Improvement Program, the same amount allocated for the past four years. With the Obama administration leaning toward spending on infrastructure improvement so help stimulate the economy, the most often mentioned projects focus on highways and bridges. But administration insiders indicate that aviation could be one of the largest recipients of the funding focus. With much of the funding for the financial rescue program now available for other projects, some believe that aviation could find itself among the beneficiaries.