A modern air system can best be achieved by pro-connectivity, pro-growth and pro-traveler policy.

Quick Facts

In the next decade, air travel could grow to more than 900 million passengers, which could add billions in annual U.S. travel spending and support 750,000 new American jobs. However, America’s crumbling aviation infrastructure and limited air service options threaten this future growth.

Modernizing America’s Airports

Investment in basic airport infrastructure has not kept up with demand for travel, nor does it currently compare with our international competitors’ investment in their countries’ airports. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave American airport infrastructure a D rating in 2013. Additionally, America's aviation infrastructure ranks 9th in the world, with 1 in 5 flights cancelled or delayed, and 75 percent of routes are dominated by one airline having more than 50 percent of the market share. 

Improving U.S. airport infrastructure begins with fundamentally shifting the system’s financing to a user fee-based model—adjusting the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) cap—an approach that will increase local control over infrastructure improvements, help increase air service and enhance the air passenger experience. 

Preserving Open Skies Agreements

For decades, the U.S. has negotiated Open Skies agreements with more than 100 countries to permit unrestricted market access in international aviation. These agreements eliminate government control over routing, frequency and pricing and have led to lower fares, more competition and higher passenger growth.

As international travel grows, Open Skies agreements have been critical in America’s efforts to capture a share of this highly lucrative market. Since 2009, increased international travel to the U.S. has delivered $50 billion to our economy. Studies suggest that Open Skies has generated at least $4 billion in benefits for travelers, including lowering fares by nearly 15 percent. Negotiating additional Open Skies agreements could bring an additional $4 billion per year in traveler gains.

Travel to and within the United States supports 15.1 million American jobs, with international travel spending directly supporting more than a million U.S. jobs. 

Recommendations

Modernize airport infrastructure

Local airports need the authority to increase passenger facility charges to provide more funding for new airport improvements. The 30 largest hub airports would then be able to forego $1.5 billion in federal grants over 10 years.

Expand air service

Protecting existing Open Skies agreements will eliminate government control over airline routing, flight frequency and pricing and continue to increase connectivity that encourages travel. This lowers fares for travelers and provides access to more flights.

Quick Facts

  • 17

    years

    Since Congress authorized an increase in the passenger facility charge (PFC).
    The PFC is a key funding source to help airports modernize. Without funding to modernize, U.S. airports will have lowered ability to provide a quality air travel experience and be less competitive with airports in other parts of the world.
  • 1 in 5

    Flights delayed or cancelled in 2014.
    Flight delays have reached their highest levels since 2008, and flight cancellations have reached their highest level since 2000.
  • 75

    %

    U.S. airline routes dominated by 1 carrier with more than 50% market share.
    Airline competition is stagnant, driving up airfares and pricing some people out of the market.

Research, News and Commentary on Aviation Infrastructure

Growth and Connectivity Central Themes of the Week

February 17, 2017

U.S. Travel continues to monitor and analyze impact on travel intent and international perception following the currently suspended presidential executive order. We're working to ensure our industry's position, and concerns, are heard.

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Open Skies

Preserving Open Skies

February 08, 2017

An explanation of U.S. Travel's position on (and the details behind) the changes being proposed by the U.S. legacy airlines along with an understanding about how Open Skies benefits travelers and...

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TSA Precheck Toolkit Perks

Hooray for Growing TSA PreCheck

January 27, 2017

U.S. Travel hopes the expansion to 11 more airlines will spur even more travelers to enroll in TSA’s valuable expedited screening program.

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Roger Dow Commentary

An Optimist Looks Ahead to the Trump Administration

January 27, 2017

Hear me out: The Trump administration presents some promising opportunities for the travel industry, as well as the U.S. economy.

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Aviation Issue

Chao on Open Skies: We Couldn’t Agree More

January 25, 2017

Ms. Chao clearly understands the importance of the access, connectivity and economic opportunity these agreements offer, and we look forward to working with her on strengthening them even further.

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Travel’s Role in Trump’s First 100 Days—And in America’s Future

January 19, 2017

Travel played a pivotal part in many of 2016’s biggest stories. Here’s why travel is so important to our country’s future—and how U.S. Travel will make that known in the early days of the new administration.

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