WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich joined the Senate in a 95-3 vote to pass a critical Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) bill, which includes a provision ensuring that the Four Corners Regional Airport in Farmington will remain eligible through fiscal year 2017 for full Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding — an important source of federal support for construction and maintenance. The bill, which reauthorizes the FAA, now goes to the U.S. House of Representatives.
AIP provides critical funding to help airports maintain air service facilities and make necessary upgrades. The FAA reauthorization bill provides $1 million a year for airports that see more than 10,000 passengers a year. Udall, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, pushed for a provision in the bill, which Heinrich supported, to create a temporary exception for the Four Corners airport and other small airports that recently saw a drop in passengers. Farmington went from over 14,000 passengers in 2013 to less than 6,000 in 2014. The exception ensures that Farmington will remain eligible for full AIP funding through the next fiscal year.
“Like small airports across New Mexico, the Four Corners Regional Airport provides a critical link for rural communities,” Udall said. “While many small carriers are cutting back flights, our rural airports still need funding for maintenance and essential upgrades. After hearing from Farmington Mayor Tommy Roberts, I worked with the Senate Commerce Committee to ensure this legislation allows the airport to remain eligible for full AIP funding into the next fiscal year. This is a step forward, and we’ll keep working to support rural air service at the Four Corners Regional Airport and others across New Mexico.”
“I’m proud to have supported legislation in the FAA bill to help ensure the Four Corners Regional Airport continues to receive full Airport Improvement Program funds for critical safety enhancements, efficiency improvements and facility upgrades,” Heinrich said. “The air service industry in Northwestern New Mexico contributes to the local economy and plays an important role in supporting commerce in the state.”
The current FAA authorization expires in July. Critical functions of the FAA and AIP funding, on which several New Mexico airports depend, will be in jeopardy if Congress does not pass a reauthorization bill in time.