...established a separate Aviation Security Capital Fund under the Dept. of Homeland Security, not the Dept. of Transportation. It draws revenue from passenger security fees. We essentially built a fence around AIP to ensure that it is used for safety and capacity projects in the first instance and not diverted for security projects, says airport lobbyist Hauptli.
Congress appropriated $250 million for the new security fund for fiscal 2004. But URS Steer says,You can see thats not going to go very far. He says one major airport estimates it will need $140 million just to install online baggage screening equipment.
PBs FitzGerald sees increased demand for landside projects, including airport access. He says 25 U.S. airports are looking at adding rail access.
Passenger traffic continues to rise. On March 25, FAA said volume should hit 686.7 million this year, up 7% from 2003, but still below 2000s 697.6 million. The rebound has been slower than FAA had thought. In 2002, it predicted a return to pre-9/11 levels in 2004. But since last year, it has pushed that date to 2005 or 2006.
In some places, business already is back to normal. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta told FAAs March forecast conference that nine of the 35 major U.S. airports are busier than they were before 9/11. And by the end of 2004, we expect a return to pre-9/11 levels at 15 major airports, including seven of the top 10, he said.
By early summer, FAA will issue a detailed look at airport capacity needs in 2013 and 2020, says Steven Urlass, a program analyst in FAAs national planning division. The report will take a little different look at the nations airports, examining such leading indicators as where people are moving and businesses are locating, he says.