Rich Thomaselli | May 13, 2016 12:00 PM ET
At Least Politicians Are Talking About Airport Improvement
Politicians will always be politicians. You never really can tell when their truths are actual lies, when their lies are actual truths, and when either of them will actually turn into action.
But as we come down the home stretch of this lengthy Presidential campaign, it’s worth noting that whether you are red or blue, there seems to be some common ground among the candidates – the need to address the growing needs of America’s crumbling infrastructure, including our airports.
How we get there remains to be seen.
But at least they are talking about it.
When Donald J. Trump won the state of Indiana primary last week, all but assuring him of being the Republican presidential nominee in November’s general election, his gave his usual off-the-cuff remarks. He thanked the voters. Took a couple of jabs at rivals. Talked about some things he wanted to accomplish going forward. And, in a bit of a departure, Trump also talked about rebuilding the infrastructure, noting that airports, especially, were in dire straits. In fact, he even invoked Vice President Joe Biden’s infamous remarks from two years about the state of LaGuardia Airport in New York City, using the phrase “third-world nation” to describe the facility.
It’s not the first time Trump has brought this up. At a Republican debate in December, he made an indirect reference to the infrastructure problem wrapped around one of his famous jibes: “We've spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people," Trump said. "If we could've spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges and all of the other problems — our airports and all of the other problems we've had — we would've been a lot better off. I can tell you that right now."
Hillary Clinton? The former Secretary of State has offered more than just words. She has outlined a $275 billion infrastructure plan that does address the need to accelerate aviation technology and invest in airports. “Hillary will invest in building world-class American airports and get the Federal Aviation Administration's 'NextGen' program back on track to modernize our national airspace system. These changes will reduce carbon emissions and save travelers and airlines an estimated $100 billion in avoided delays over the next 15 years,” a fact sheet on her website said.
Bernie Sanders? A $1 trillion infrastructure plan that earmarks $12.5 billion specifically for airport improvements across the country.
So, yes, at least they all are talking about it.
Whether words turn into actions remains to be seen.
Remember, much of this relies on a fractured government more torn by partisan politics than ever. Two of the biggest issues surrounding the industry – raising the cap on Passenger Facility Charge to use for airport funding, and privatization of the air traffic control system – were not included on the TSA reauthorization funding bill passed by the Senate last month.
So whoever is elected in November is going to face an uphill battle when it comes to infrastructure improvements. One can only hope it doesn’t take something tragic to spur them into action.
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