Los Angeles, DC Airports Among $1 Billion Biden Boost to Travel

  • Terminals have ‘evident’ need, White House official says
  • Federal funds traditionally focused on runways, control towers

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The Transportation Department is awarding nearly $1 billion to expand airport terminals across the country as the Biden administration and air carriers have been plagued by recent flight disruptions.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday that 85 US airports will receive millions of dollars each from the infrastructure law (Public Law 117-58) to upgrade their terminals by expanding capacity, as well as making them more accessible and sustainable. Airports in Los Angeles, Denver, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Washington’s Dulles International Airport are among those set to receive money for projects.

Officials touted the spending as a way to help airports meet future demand. The aviation system has been strained by a huge rebound in passengers this year, with airlines and the administration both blaming the other for disruptions.

Photographer: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden disembark from Air Force One upon arrival at Denver International Airport in Denver, Colo., in January 2022.

“We’ve seen airports and airlines struggling to keep up with demand,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told reporters. “We’re delighted to see demand return, but need to make sure that there is the capacity to meet it for the long run.”

United Air Blames FAA’s Control System for Snarling US Aviation

Biden administration officials said in the past the FAA largely invested in infrastructure such as runways and traffic-control towers, leaving terminal spending to the private sector. This funding round changes that trend, they said. Mitch Landrieu, White House senior adviser and infrastructure implementation coordinator, said typically local airport owners and airlines have improved the terminals, but “the need is evident” for federal support.

“I don’t think anybody could look at airports across America today and say that the existing system and the existing level of funding has been adequate,” Buttigieg said. He added that passenger facility charges are going to continue to help pay for improvements.

The department said that 70 grants will expand terminal capacity. Orlando International Airport will get $50 million to build four gates, while Pittsburgh International Airport will receive $20 million to construct a new terminal with improved passenger security screening.

Many projects were left unfunded. FAA Associate Administrator for Airports Shannetta Griffin said it was a “very, very competitive process.” Griffin said the agency received about 658 applications across 532 airports, with more than $14 billion requested.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lillianna Byington in Washington at lbyington@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anna Yukhananov at ayukhananov@bloombergindustry.com; Sarah Babbage at sbabbage@bgov.com

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