The $1 trillion federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on November 5 and signed by President Biden on November 15, provides $25 billion for airports.
"On behalf of airports across the country, I want to thank the stakeholders that supported this vital investment in our nation’s airports," said Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) CEO Chellie Cameron. "The bill makes a much-needed down payment to upgrade aging facilities and make necessary terminal, runway and access improvements."
The $25 billion for airports includes $15 billion in direct funding based on airports' enplanement levels, $5 billion for a new Terminal Modernization grant program, and $5 billion for Air Traffic Control Towers. The legislation also allows airports to apply for long-term, low interest loans for large scale projects through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA). Previously, this program was not available for airport projects.
"At this time, we are still learning more regarding how much money will be allocated for PHL, however, we have significant capital needs that can benefit from this funding," said Cameron. "We will work closely with the FAA to understand the impact this bill will have on the airport."
The legislation comes as PHL is undergoing a $1.2 billion cargo expansion that will see PHL increase its air cargo facility footprint by 136 acres and almost triple its cargo building square footage from 600,000 to 1.4 million.
"Our cargo development will not only help PHL capture a bigger portion of the estimated $53 billion in air cargo that comes into the Greater Philadelphia area, it could also have an annual economic impact of $870 million for our region and create as many as 6,000 operational jobs and 22,000 construction job years," said Cameron. "Through this investment, the airport will have a unique opportunity to invest in new cargo infrastructure that will create thousands of high-quality jobs over the course of this decade."
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act could also have a positive impact inside PHL’s Terminals. "The FAA’s Airport Improvement Program typically prioritizes funding for airside projects," said Cameron. "Funding from the new Terminal Modernization grant program would help jumpstart some of the critical initiatives that are needed to improve the PHL guest experience, including updating our baggage handling system and reimaging the security checkpoints at Terminals B and C."
The airport is in the process of advancing its Master Plan Update, which will conclude in late 2023 and set a path for the airport’s future for the next 20 years.
"We are very grateful for this funding, which will help ensure the airport continues to be a regional economic engine," said Cameron. "However, while this funding will assist in providing resources to help the airport’s vision for the future become a reality, we still have a significant amount of need onsite from an infrastructure investment standpoint. For example, Terminals B and C were constructed in the 1950s and last renovated in 1998. Our newest terminal, A-West, was constructed almost 20 years ago — that’s a lifetime in our industry. Any money that we receive from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will afford us the ability to invest strategically in our facility over the next five years. In order to complete some of these large-scale projects, we will need additional support from our state, federal, and airline stakeholders."