The purpose of the ACI-NA Finance Committee is to create a platform of information sharing among airports to improve the economic health of the airport industry:
- Initiate and complete an annual work plan on financial and business matters that will benefit the airport industry;
- Actively provide the ACI-NA Board and other ACI-NA committees with input to key financial and business legislative and/or policy matters, and to coordinate selected initiatives;
- Assist ACI-NA with the coordination of the Business of Airports Conference each year;
- Plan and hold an Airport CFO Summit each year to share ideas and best practices;
- Actively support financial benchmarking initiatives so that airports can measure and improve performance;
- Actively support ACRP finance initiatives and report progress to the Committee.
2019 Committee Accomplishments
The 13th Airport CFO Summit
- The Tucson Airport Authority hosted the 13th Annual Airport CFO Summit on Feb.27-28, 2019. The Summit covered key issues facing airport CFOs: how to prepare for the next economic downturn, alternative financing, airport rate setting and airline agreement negotiations, and accounting updates. The Summit was well attended with over 50 attendees from large, medium and small U.S. and Canadian airports.
Accounting and Financing Working Group
GASB 87 Implementation
The Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) issued GASB 87 Leases, which is effective for fiscal years beginning after December 31, 2019. This standard is based on the principle that all leases are financings of the underlying assets. With few exceptions, leases will need to be recorded on the balance sheets of both lessees and lessors. The impact to airports is significant as a substantial number of airport revenues are derived from lease agreements, as lessors.
With the support of this working group and ACI-NA General Counsel Tom Devine, the final standard issued included an exemption from this balance sheet presentation for certain regulated leases (aviation related leases in the airport context). As airports begin to prepare for implementation of the new standard, they have been reaching out to the working group for additional guidance on applying this exemption. Tom Devine developed a White Paper that provides background and guidance to help airports understand and apply the standards contained in GASB 87 paragraphs 42 and 43. The White Paper explored the range of airport leases that would meet GASB standards for exemption.
The working group continues to reach out to members by providing ongoing training and clarification on the standard, including a presentation at the Business of Airports Conference in June 2019.
The working group is currently in the process of planning a 2-day training workshop to be held in Ontario, CA on January 29-30, 2020 to further help airports with the GASB 87 implementation.
GASB Preliminary View (PV) on Financial Reporting Model
The PV defines that any revenue or expenses that is non-operating must be classified as operating. The PV includes a concept of and definition for “subsidy.” This definition of a subsidy may allow airports to treat PFCs and CFCs as operating revenue. Under current standards most airports report these as non-operating revenues. The working group conducted a survey to find out airports’ preference concerning the treatment of PFCs and CFCs. The survey results from a limited number of airports indicated no consensus and therefore ACI-NA did not submit industry comments. While the survey results were not conclusive, there is a strong consensus from airport finance officers that the issue should continue to be explored and if possible that the working group should develop a response for any future comment periods related to this Financial Reporting Model.
Finance Professional of the Year Award
The working group did another review of the ACI-NA Finance Professional of the Year Award Program and offered recommendations to the process and forms to simplify the program. The recommendations were implemented for the 2019 awards program and ACI-NA staff developed an electronic interface on the ACI-NA website for the nomination, application and judging process. Judges reviewed and scored each award application and selected a winner for each applicable airport hub-size. The awards were presented at the June 2019 Business of Airports Conference.
Airport and Airline Business Working Group
Airport Business Term Survey
This survey collects important information on business terms between airports and airlines including ratemaking methodology, expense recovery, capital review and gate allocation methods. It is the only comprehensive survey on airline rates and charges. The 2019 survey was launched in March and data collection continued through May. 59 airports responded as of May 31. The survey results were presented in Scottsdale at the working group meeting during the Business of Airports Conference.
Recommendations to Improve the FAA Form 127 database
At the request of the FAA, the Working Group formed a taskforce to develop recommendations to improve the FAA Certification Activity Tracking System (CATS) database, also known as FAA Form 127. Taskforce members include airports of various sizes and financial consultants. The taskforce has had a number of calls to discuss the approach to develop recommendations. It was decided that the effort would focus on improvements to the Form 5100-127. An online survey was launched to collect feedback from ACI member airports on this subject and we received 24 responses. The taskforce developed recommendations based on the survey results and vetted the recommendations with the CFOs at the CFO Summit before finalizing the recommendations that was submitted to FAA in April. FAA had several questions on some of the proposed changes, which were addressed in a conference call in early June.
Efforts to Collect Use and Lease Agreements and Rates and Charges Information
The working group plans to utilize the new Finance Committee Community Library as a tool to catalogue expertise and recent trends and share best practices. As part of this effort, the working group sent out a request asking airports to submit their current airline agreements, rate ordinances and rates and charges packages. The working group also designated individuals to follow up with the request. ACI-NA staff helped upload over 50 documents to this new library.
Webinar on Recent Airline Negotiations
The working group conducted a webinar on Oct.9 highlighting recent airline negotiations at IND, SEA and SJC. The webinar was very well attended with over 100 airport members. Staff received several emails complimenting that the presentations were very good and the webinar provided useful information to those airports that will start their negotiation process soon.
Financial Impacts of Federal Policy Working Group
- ACI-NA has been actively working with the U.S. DOT Build American Bureau to identify opportunities to make TIFIA more-friendly to airports. The working group conducted an Airport Federal Financing Interest Survey to help the U.S. Secretary of Transportation evaluate the demand for and feasibility of establishing a Federal credit assistance program for airports. The survey was launched on May 21 and closed on June 3. With rounds of outreach efforts, a total of 35 airports responded. 20 out of 35 respondents indicated that the currently available funding and financing options do not meet the airports’ planned capital costs. 17 airports indicated that they would be interested to pursue a Federal credit assistance program like TIFIA. The working group formed a TIFIA taskforce to identify and prioritize “wish list” from airports for legislative and regulatory policy advocacy.
- The working group focused on identifying priorities for recommended changes to the U.S. Federal Programs such as AIP and PFC. The working group evaluated and quantified to the extent possible the options compiled by the Government Affairs team, and recommended a prioritization based on comprehensive analysis.
- In response to requests from the Government Affairs team, ACI-NA staff reached out to airport directors, head of government relations, CFOs and Finance Directors asking for project examples that can help illustrate the benefit of PFC cap increase in airport infrastructure investment. A total of 54 airports responded representing 55% of the total national enplanement. The information gathered was shared with the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Membership Engagement Working Group
- The working group focused its outreach efforts to first time attendees of the CFO Summit and the Business of Airports Conference. Welcome letters from the Committee Chair were distributed prior to the events. Outreach efforts were also made to airports with limited or no committee participation to encourage more involvement.
Strategic Planning and Performance Management Working Group
Annual ACI-NA Financial Benchmarking Survey
The working group has been conducting the Annual ACI-NA Airport Financial Benchmarking Survey since 2007. This survey, which currently tracks approximately 590 data elements, has proven to be a valuable tool for U.S. and Canadian airports in evaluating their operational and financial performance relative to their peers.
A total of 94 airports responded to the 2018 survey (for FY17 results). The working group organized a webinar on May 9 to share the findings of the FY17 survey results along with the ACI World 2019 Economics Report.
A total of 84 airports responded to the 2019 survey (for FY18 results) including 25 large, 18 medium, 20 small, 9 non-hub U.S. airports and 12 Canadian airports. Preliminary results of the FY18 survey were presented at the Business of Airports Conference held in Scottsdale and final results were presented at the Finance Workshop during the Annual Conference and Exhibition held in Tampa.
The working group discussed ways to streamline the survey to make it less burdensome to increase airport participation, including exploring ways to pre-populate the survey with the FAA Form 127 data, shortening the survey questions, and seeking additional support to analyze survey data. The working group is currently in the process of revising the survey form and will pretest the new survey form with a number of airports before its official launch in December.
Bond Rating Taskforce
- An ad-hoc taskforce is being struck to lobby the rating agencies to review the rating methodology for the airport industry. The objective is to achieve a similar viewpoint as taken regarding utilities and the long-term nature of airport infrastructure.
ACI-NA Commentary on Finance
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