Press Release

February 29, 2000


Jubi D. Headley, Jr.
(202) 861-6766

Kevin McCarty
(202) 861-6711

Conference Touts Benefits of Aviation Investment,
Calls for Action on AIR-21

Atlanta, Tulsa Mayors Testify Before House,
Citing Airports as Key to Economic Growth

Capitol Hill — Speaking today before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation, Conference of Mayors leaders Bill Campbell of Atlanta and M. Susan Savage of Tulsa affirmed the Conference of Mayors' support for "AIR-21," legislation which would help cities finance growing airport infrastructure needs throughout the nation's aviation system.

"We have calculated that Hartsfield Airport has a $15 billion economic impact on the Atlanta region," said Mayor Campbell, who chairs the Conference's Standing Committee on Transportation and Telecommunications. "This is a powerful statement about the critical importance of investment in our infrastructure. . .our airport now anchors a regional economy that in 1998 outpaced the national economic growth by two to one." Last year Hartsfield Airport became the busiest airport in the world, providing services to more than 78 million passengers yearly--or about one out of every ten passengers in the U. S.

The AIR-21 legislation, if passed, would:

  • Ensure that aviation funds collected are expended on aviation needs;

  • Triple entitlement grants under the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) that flow to the primary airports;

  • Allow airports to increase Passenger Facility Charges (PFCs);

  • Double AIP entitlement grants for cargo airports; and

  • Make changes to the AIP program to ensure funding for smaller airports and strengthen the national system.

At the Summer Leadership Meeting of the Conference of Mayor in Denver last September, Conference President and Denver Mayor Wellington Webb made enactment of AIR-21 a top Conference legislative priority. Mayor Webb also recently released "A New Agenda for America's Cities," which sets forth a ten-point program that emphasizes the importance of infrastructure investment on aviation and other needs. Last month, at Mayor Webb's invitation, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Bud Shuster, author of the legislation, joined a bipartisan group of more than 200 Mayors at their 68th Winter Meeting in Washington, to urge Mayors to press Congress for passage of the AIR-21 legislation in this session.

"This legislation provides the framework to help us close the shortfall in capital needs and respond to the rising demands of the travelling public, not to mention the businesses that are so dependent upon the performance of our aviation system, "Mayor Campbell maintained.

Mayor Savage further affirmed the role that airports play in spurring economic growth, and the need for a sustained federal resource commitment to the nation's airport and aviation system. "As a mayor, I am here to tell you that a substantial aviation investment, as you have set forth in AIR-21, is the type of policy that is responsive to the needs of the nation's metro economies," testified Mayor Savage, who among other roles serves on the Conference's Board of Trustees.

To substantiate the claim Mayor Savage cited data from the Conference's report, U. S. Metro Economies: The Engines of America's Growth. The report calculates the Gross Metropolitan product (a concept analogous to Gross Domestic Product) for more than 300 U. S. metro areas, and documents the vital role that cities and metropolitan areas play in driving the nation economy.

"Tulsa International Airport. . .generates more than $40 million annually in airport taxes and fees for the federal government, Yet in 1999, we received only 11 cents back on the dollar. And 1999 was not the worst year we've had," Mayor Savage stated. "I am here today to ask you to do for the airports what you did for surface transportation. . .to join with the local governments to rebuild an aging system in a partnership--a partnership fairer than the one we currently have with the federal government."

For a copy of Mayor Campbell's testimony, click here.
For a copy of Mayor Savage's testimony, click here.

The U. S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are about 1,100 such cities in the country today. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the Mayor.