Commission can lobby for loan extension for small airports
The State Commercial Aviation Coordination Commission (CACC) established by the state legislature in 2019 is tasked with developing a plan to meet Washington’s cargo capacity needs, which includes identifying suitable places for a future international airport. The committee may request a two-year extension of this plan in order to further examine the options available.
In the meantime, the CACC will likely recommend that the state legislature extend a low-interest revolving loan program for small airports that expires next year, to meet cargo capacity needs at short term.
The CACC was created following a 2018 report of the Joint Transportation Committee which found that air cargo tonnage in the state will increase at an annual rate of 4.4% through 2045, while the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) concluded Sea-Tac will reach full capacity by 2036. The Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) is currently conducting a baseline study on regional aviation which estimates that passenger boardings in the region will increase from 24 million in 2018 to nearly 50 million by 2050.
The CACC is expected to offer six potential new airports to the legislature in January, with a single site selected by 2021. The potential site recommendations are mostly in western Washington, while during a meeting, the commission examined whether Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) could be moved to accommodate a new airport.
Anyway, a presentation to commission at its October 21 meeting detailed the extensive planning process involved in building or expanding an airport as well as eligibility for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funding. In addition, the construction of a new airport will undoubtedly spark discussions on the effects of noise, increased traffic congestion and other environmental factors.
Earlier this year, a majority of commission members expressed support for a future large airport while using existing airports to meet short-term capacity. CACC member Senator Karen Keizer (D-33) told her colleagues at the October 21 meeting that “if we limit ourselves to a short-term view only, I think we are missing what we need. really do, namely an agreement with a future of 20 to 30 years. “
FAA officials told the committee at the Oct. 21 meeting that while it could potentially expand several existing airports, it would be easier to build a single new site.
In addition to a two-year extension of the end of its plan, the committee is also asking permission to explore the possibility of increasing air cargo capacity at Boeing Field; the commission is prohibited from making recommendations in King County.
Josh Brown, CCAC member and CRFP CEO, told his colleagues that “one of the things we need to flesh out… is what is this next phase of planning? What does it look like? “
He added that to gain support for an extension of time, “we need to help policymakers and the public bridge the dots on what this (new airport process) might look like.”
To help meet short-term needs, the commission may also recommend expanding statutory funding. Community Aviation Revitalization Board (CARB) Loan Program. Under the program, airports with less than 75,000 take-offs or commercial flights can receive a 20-year loan of up to $ 750,000 at an interest rate of 2% to cover repair projects, maintenance and expansion such as hangars, parking lots and business park developments. . A 2013 WSDOT study found that 134 airports will require $ 3.6 billion over the next 20 years.
Although the Legislature approved $ 5 million in capital funding for the program, a separate bill that would have made CARB permanent was vetoed by Governor Jay Inslee. Recent legislative efforts to codify the CARB have also failed, and the loan program is expected to expire in 2021.
WSDOT Aviation Director and CACC Chairman David Fleckenstein told the committee that recommending the extension of the loan program is “an easy task … it is a successful program, and keeping it in place helps meet the capacity and demand of general aviation. “
PSRC will lead a virtual open house for its aeronautical study of October 30.