Huntley A. Lawrence, aviation director for the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PANY&NJ), last week told members of the Aero Club of Washington that, "It is long past time to eliminate the outdated cap on the PFC. We're expected to modernize our airports in the 21st century, even though PFCs are stuck in the 20th century."
He said that proposed FAA reauthorization legislation "hampers the ability of airport operators to serve the traveling public, because we cannot address our unmet needs."
Despite the PANY&NJ aviation department's 10-year, $11.6 billion capital plan, and some $10 billion in private investment over that period, Lawrence said, "Projects have to be deferred. Planning gets delayed. Even with all our investment, I'm still not where I need to be." He noted that the port authority has five airports, 14 terminals, 13 runways, miles of taxiways and roadways, and cargo facilities. Even after the planned improvements are completed, Lawrence said, "Almost half of my passenger terminals will be more than 50 years old."
Further, he highlighted another consequence of falling behind in infrastructure investment: "For every million passengers I can't serve, I lose the opportunity to create 4,000 jobs. If I can't do it, how can all the other commercial and general aviation airports do it?"
Regarding the proposal to remove air traffic control from the federal system, Lawrence said, "maybe we ought to learn to walk before we run."
"I want more efficient airspace. I crave faster delivery of NextGen. I support the notion of a workforce, NATCA members, being given the resources to achieve its mission. But I am not willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Not just yet," he said, suggesting that FAA, like airports, requires resources to address its needs. Among those resources, Lawrence cited a stable funding stream, and "greater flexibility to procure systems and equipment."
He called for an open debate that results in a truly modernized air traffic control system - a debate in which airports are represented.