U.S. Awards $1B In Federal Funds For Airport Infrastructure Upgrades

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced the funding Feb. 27.

Credit: Reuters/Alamy Stock Photo

Nearly $1 billion in grants will go to 99 U.S. airports, funding a range of upgrades to infrastructure including terminals, security screening and baggage systems, access roads, and air traffic control towers.

The funds—ranging from $243,825 for Oxford County Regional Airport, Maine, to $50 million for Chicago O’Hare International Airport—come from the U.S. Transportation Department (DOT) and FAA under the Airport Terminal Program (ATP). 

Among the funded priorities are projects at San Diego International Airport ($20 million) for construction of a new 30-gate 1.2 million ft.2 terminal; Peoria International Airport, Illinois, ($14 million) for replacement of a 63-year-old air traffic control tower (ATCT); Chennault International Airport, Louisiana, ($500,000) for bolstering the resilience of its ATCT and base building to environmental hazards and storm conditions; and Portland International Airport ($6 million) to replace a fossil fuel-powered heating system with an electric-powered heat pump.

“With demand for air travel surging back, this funding to improve the passenger experience couldn’t come at a more urgent time,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Feb. 27. “These grants will make it faster and easier to check your bags, get through security and find your gate, all while creating jobs and supporting local economies.”

In Puerto Rico, a $6 million grant awarded to Aguadilla’s Rafael Hernandez Airport will help fund the rehabilitation of a commercial terminal dating back to 1942, adding a second-level departure hall with four contact gates for narrow- and widebody aircraft, and construct a 12,000-ft.2 Customs and Border Protection facility for international arrivals. At the Asheville Regional Airport in North Carolina, two grants totaling $20 million will go toward a portion of its modernization and expansion project to replace an existing 61-year-old terminal with a new, expanded facility, and replace and relocate its 61-year-old ATCT. The airport broke ground on the new $55 million tower this January, with the recent funding joining a $15 million award announced by FAA last year.

“Today’s funding doesn’t just improve airport terminals,” Deputy FAA Administrator Bradley Mims said. “It creates opportunities in communities large and small for good-paying jobs and a chance to be part of our country’s thriving aviation sector.”

The 99 airport grants announced Feb. 27 join a list of 85 airports to receive funding in 2022 under the ATP, enabled through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed the year prior. ATP allocates funding of $1 billion a year for five years, split between large hubs (55%), medium hubs (15%) small hubs (20%) and non-hubs or non-primary airports (10%). The grant recipients on this second round include airports in two U.S. territories and nearly every U.S. state; except for Delaware, Rhode Island and Wyoming.

In awarding the funds, FAA considers projects that increase capacity and passenger access, replace aging infrastructure, expand accessibility for persons with disabilities, improve access for historically disadvantaged populations, improve energy efficiency and airfield safety, and encourage actual and potential competition.

The “vast majority” of the projects to receive the funding in 2022 are now under construction, FAA said.

Christine Boynton

Christine Boynton covers air transport in the Americas for Aviation Week Network.