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Funding for FAA Operations Account Must be Protected - (3/16/2000)

WASHINGTON-The Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill, which was passed by the House on Wednesday, will finally relieve some of the uncertainty hindering the FAA’s funding and progress. However, the budget and appropriations committees must now follow through on the promised revenue.

The three-year, $40 billion bill’s passage would guarantee FAA funding. It will also allow the agency to continue its successful modernization programs as well as immediately free up millions in new airport construction monies.

“The ability to accurately estimate funding three years into the future will allow the agency to reach an unprecedented level of stability,” National Air Traffic Controllers Association Executive Vice President Randy Schwitz said. “In the past we’ve had to guess about funding from year to year and our programs suffered. This bill will allow the FAA to make reasonable and actionable plans for the years to come.”

The bill includes the presidential recommendations for FAA operations budget to increase to $6.592 billion in FY 2001, up from the current $5.893 billion. This amount is scheduled to increase to $7.357 billion by FY 2003. This funding will provide support for the FAA’s existing 45,000 employees and allow for necessary training programs.

“We hope that some of this money can go towards alleviating staffing problems and preparing for the large amount of controllers who will be eligible for retirement over the next few years,” Schwitz said. T

he bill also includes considerable increases in funding for the Airport Improvement Program, which will see a swell of $1.5 billion over three years. One billion will be added to upgrade facilities and equipment and financial support for research will increase by $100 million over the same period. In addition to the funding authorized from the trust fund and the general fund, conferees have agreed to supplement infrastructure development by increasing the maximum passenger facility charge collected by airports.

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