Arizona’s own little Show Low Regional Airport is causing quite the stir among the three heavy-hitter airports in the New York area. LaGuardia Airport, together with its neighbors John F. Kennedy International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport, sees about one third of the entire nation’s flights.
On its own, LaGuardia saw just under 13 million departures in 2012; Show Low Regional, on the other hand, had just under 4000 departures. What do these airports have in common? In the eyes of the FAA, $3.8 million in Airport Improvement Program grants.
The FAA seems to be in a tight spot with this recent decision. On one hand, the nation’s smaller airports serve a very important purpose, and often rely solely on federal grants for improvement and safety projects. Larger airports like LaGuardia are able to charge facility fees, as well as receive funding from other sources such as the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. On the other hand, the AIP funds allocated to both airports equal $986.50 in federal funds per passenger at Show Low’s airport, while LaGuardia receives a paltry $0.29 per passenger.
LaGuardia Airport is set to undergo a huge project to replace its aging central terminal in the next decade, to the tune of $2.2 billion. Consistently ranked one of the worst airports in the country for delays and passenger experience, part of LaGuardia’s problem is that it was designed decades ago when the current level of air traffic could never have been predicted.
As many of our own small Valley airports undergo important construction projects—projects that directly affect and improve the safety of our pilots and communities—it is hard to argue that smaller community airports should be left in the proverbial dust when it comes to federal funding. Our Arizona aviation attorneys at Curry, Pearson & Wooten want to know: what do you think about the allocation of AIP grants?