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"Airport exec worries FAA bill will use improvement funds"

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Johnson County airport exec worries FAA bill will use improvement funds
By Austin Alonzo 
The Kansas City (MO) Business Journal

Congress passed a temporary resolution on Friday that will let the Federal
Aviation Administration end furloughs of air traffic controllers. The
question is, where will the money come from?

The measure will allow the Secretary of Transportation to transfer $253
million into the FAA's operations account in an effort to end the agency's
furloughs of controllers at 149 small and medium-sized airports around the

The bill must be signed into law by President Barack Obama before the money
can be transferred.

Elizabeth Cory, a regional spokeswoman for FAA, declined to comment on the
bill until the agency issues an official statement.

Lee Metcalfe, executive director of the Johnson County Airport Commission,
said he's not sure whether the passage of the bill will keep his air traffic
control towers staffed through the summer. The commission oversees the
Johnson County Executive Airport and the New Century AirCenter.

Metcalfe said he received a memo from the American Association of Airport
Executives on Friday that said the FAA might end up diverting funds from the
agency's Airport Improvement Program - a dedicated fund for routine facility
maintenance accessible to all airports.

"Unfortunately, AIP funding - which has been exempt from sequestration to
this point - has been viewed by many as the path of least resistance in
terms of necessary funding offset to keep the controllers on the job," the
memo said.

Metcalfe said the commission has planned $4.8 million in improvement
projects at both Johnson County Executive and New Century that would have
been financed with AIP funds.

If the bill uses funds from the account, the consequences will loom large
for the Kansas City Aviation Department, which has suggested that AIP funds
will help cover a portion of the proposed $1.2 billion renovation of Kansas
City International Airport.

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