Accounting & Financing Working Group

The objective of the Accounting and Financing Working Group is to assist US and Canadian airports with accounting and financing matters and to identify, communicate and educate airports on:

  • Accounting and financial reporting
  • Financing market conditions and opportunities
  • Regulatory compliance and professional standards
  • Emerging issues and trends
  • Related best practices

The working group seeks to accumulate, develop and share information through cooperation and coordination with other Finance Committee working groups, member airports, external agencies and subject matter experts.  The goal is to provide accounting, financial reporting and financing resources, recommendations and advocacy on behalf of airports that provides input on, and influences positive outcomes for, proposed or realized changes that impact the airport industry.

Working Group 2019 Chair

John Schubert
Senior Finance Director
Tucson International Airport

  • In all aspects of the Accounting and Financing Working Group’s (AFWG) efforts, be inclusive and representative of both Canadian and U.S. airports’ standards, issues, trends, and best practices.
  • Monitor, communicate, and provide advocacy on developments in financial reporting, financing, and related compliance requirements of regulatory and standard-setting bodies, including but not limited to the following:
    1. Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB)
    2. Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB)
    3. International Accounting Standards Board (IASB)
    4. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Provide assistance and best practice recommendations for meeting new standards and compliance requirements in financial reporting. Provide updates on new approaches to airport financing.
  • Provide input to enhance the ACI-NA Finance Professional of the Year to be announced at the 2018 Business of Airports Conference. Assist in marketing this award program. Review and provide recommendations for updating the current application package.
  • Assist with monitoring and updating ACI-NA’s accounting and financing resources. Inform members of the availability of this library, and encourage them to contribute to it.
  • Develop a framework, materials, and presentations for a Finance 101 webinar series.
  • Conduct webinars in 2018 on the following topics:
    1. Financing and capital market update, including the impact of 2017 Tax Cuts and Job Act (tentatively in June 2018)
    2. Implementation of new FASB, GASB and IFRS lease accounting standards (tentatively in May 2018)

GASB 87 Lease Implementation

  • The working group held two sessions to provide education and assistance to the airport industry on GASB 87 implementation. The first session was held during the CFO Summit with 60 attendees and the second session was a webinar with over 150 attendees.  Both sessions presented a step-by-step approach to implementing GASB 87 lessor lease accounting standards at U.S. airports. The webinar focused on this change in accounting principle using a complete set of actual lease agreement data, assumptions and results from the application of GASB 87. Moss Adams, a national CPA firm, provided an audit perspective on how to prepare for the new standard.  The working group will continue to act as a clearinghouse for questions and answers on GASB 87, and will provide input to GASB on the GASB 87 implementation guide to be released next year.

Comments on Capitalized Interest during Airport Construction

  • The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) issued an Exposure Draft proposing that Enterprise Funds change the method of accounting for interest costs during construction.  Under the proposed standard, interest costs incurred during the construction period would no longer be capitalized as part of the asset cost but would instead be treated as a period cost and expensed in the period incurred.  In response to member airport concerns that the new rule would negatively affect many U.S. airports, ACI-NA filed comments opposing this change and recommended that the GASB reconsider its position and hold a public meeting prior to the issuance of this Exposure Draft as written.
  • The GASB did not change its position and did not hold a public hearing. Its main objective is to promote comparability among all government activities, and not to align with Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) or International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). The GASB did accept ACI-NA’s request to delay the implementation of the new standard by one year from the original proposed implementation date.

ACI-NA Finance Professional of the Year Award

  • For the 4th ACI-NA Finance Professional of the Year Award, the ACI-NA received a total of 7 nominations for 6 individuals. Five nominees accepted their nominations and submitted full packages. The judging process took place in May, resulting in the selection of the following award recipients:
    • Large Airport Finance Professional of the Year: Max Underwood, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport
    • Medium Airport Finance Professional of the Year: Sylvia Ambrogio, Sacramento County Airport System
  • The Awards ceremony was held at the Gala Dinner of the 2018 Business of Airports Conference on June 13.

Airport & Airline Business Working Group

The purpose of the Airport and Airline Business Working Group is to survey business terms in current Airline Use Agreements and identify emerging trends and best practices to assist airports in negotiations and other discussions with airlines; catalogue expertise and experience as resources for other committees; collaborate with Airlines for America on issues of interest to both airlines and airports; and address other pertinent goals related to the various facets of airport and airline relationships.  The Working Group emphasizes venues for direct dialogue with airline representatives.

Working Group 2019 Chair

Tatiana Starostina
Manager of Financial Planning,
Oakland International Airport

  • Airline Agreement – emerging trends and best practices
    1. Complete the 2017/2018 business terms survey:
      1. Reach out to airports that did not respond last year, particularly small- and non-hub airports. Offer them assistance in completing the survey.
      2. Prepare a template for a high-level summary of key business terms and special features. Pilot the template at the annual Business of Airports conference.
    2. Conduct a webinar for recently negotiated agreements and related hot topics.
    3. Identify topics for ACRP Research Program — for example, ratemaking approaches for common use terminals and facilities.
    4. Update the Airline Agreements posted on the ACI-NA Finance Committee Resource Center.
  • Engage with other ACI-NA committees and Finance Committee working groups on the following topics:
    1. Airline Roundtable at the Business of Airports conference — Invite participation from CEO Committee
    2. Monitoring of airline self-reporting of PFCs — Engage with Accounting/Financing Working Group on a joint initiative to track the trends in the ratio of PFC collections to enplaned passengers by airport.
    3. Inclusion of frequent flyer award passengers in PFC eligible category – Engage with Financial Impacts of Federal Policy Working Group in drafting a proposal to include frequent flyer award passengers into the PFC program.
    4. Additional CBP staffing — Work with Matt Cornelius of ACI-NA.
    5. Operations and Technical Affairs Committee – Explore joint engagement opportunities.
  • Airline Outreach and Coordination:
    1. Continue collaboration with A4A in identifying topics for the ACI-NA Business of Airports Conference and the A4A annual properties all-hands meeting to discuss issues relevant to both airlines and airports.
    2. Seek airline and A4A support for increased CBP staffing and LEO reimbursement. Present a unified position on this to the Administration.
  • Other matters:
    1. Poll airports on FAA Form 127 improvements and recommend modifications—e.g. modifications to avoid misrepresentation and overstatement of cash reserves.

Airport Business Term Survey

  • This survey collects important information on business terms between airports and airlines including rate-making methodology, expense recovery, capital review and gate allocation methods. It is the only comprehensive survey on airline rates and charges.
  • The 2017-2018 survey was launched in January 2018 and data collection continued through May 2018. Sixty-one airports had responded by the time of the 2018 Business of Airports Conference. The working group reviewed the responses to make sure they accurately reflect the airports’ business arrangements with their airline partners. The survey results were presented at the working group meeting in Portland on June 11 during the Business of Airports Conference. The working group plans to host a webinar in early 2019 to discuss the survey and recently completed negotiations.

Enhancing Monitoring of Airline Self-reporting PFCs

  • The PFC reports provided by the airlines cannot be properly audited because PFC revenues are collected at the point of sales but are remitted to the airport only upon travel. The working group held a session in the Business of Airports conference to identify enplaned passengers not subject to PFC collection and compare airport estimates of PFCs that should have been collected with those reported by airlines. The session exposed certain issues for further research and analysis to improve PFC collections. A briefing was also provided to the ACI-NA Government Affairs team to make them fully aware of the issues identified.

Financial Impacts of Federal Policy Working Group

conjunction with other ACI committees, and to address the potential financial impact to airports resulting from policies drafted by congressional legislation, FAA initiatives, Executive Orders, and other policy-making bodies.

Working Group 2019 Chair

Greg Richardson
Deputy General Manager & CFO
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

  • Prepare and distribute a quarterly communication to the airport community regarding the working group’s activities.
  • Meet with ACI-NA Legal and Governmental teams to determine priorities for the working group.
  • Coordinate a meeting with ACI-NA representatives (Policy, Governmental Affairs, Finance and Legal) and FAA representatives to identify areas where this working group can assist in eliminating road blocks to outstanding issues.
  • Develop a webinar to educate airports on methods and priorities related to AIP Funding and the AIP Carryover process.
  • Assist ACI-NA on the following issues:
    1. FAA Reauthorization
    2. Omnibus Bill – PFC increase
    3. Infrastructure Bill
    4. PFC and AIP Handbook
    5. PFC Audit Guide
  • Perform a high-level review of equity ownership of U.S. airports to determine whether this working group can lead any future effort.

Comment on FAA’s PFC Audit Guide

  • The working group helped ACI-NA develop industry comments on the PFC Audit Guide for Public Agencies. The comment letter filed on January 31, 2018 asked for clarification regarding the use of the SOAR database and PFC assurance. It also suggested eliminating requirements that are no longer needed (for example, the quarterly reports) and revising certain language in the Audit Guide that may cause confusion to auditors.

Analysis on AIP carryover entitlement

  • “Protected carryover entitlement” includes cumulative entitlement funds from prior years that were not awarded in those years and have not yet expired. It reduced AIP funds available to the FAA for discretionary grants. The working group analyzed the general trend of AIP carryover entitlements by airport category, but it was unable to identify specific airports with high carryover entitlement due to data limitation.

Prepare for Congressional Research Service (CRS) Industry Feedback on TIFIA Financing

  • CRS asked ACI-NA whether the Transportation Infrastructure Financing and Innovation Act (TIFIA) financing can help airports.  The working group gathered member input to provide industry feedback:
  • TIFIA financing can be helpful to airports, but eligibility rules restrict the types of airport projects that could benefit from TIFIA financing. Given eligibility constraints, very few airports have been able to take advantage of TIFIA financing despite the attractiveness of its financing terms.
  • The TIFIA loan application process is cumbersome, involving negotiation of a detailed and restrictive loan agreement with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and compliance with numerous procedural rules and restrictions. The time, effort and expense involved in TIFIA loan application discourages airports, particularly smaller ones.
  • The industry feedback was also shared with the U.S. DOT Build America Bureau, which will explore ways to make the TIFIA financing more attractive to airports.

Industry Outreach to Respond to Airlines for America (A4A) letter to the Senate Opposing a PFC Increase

  • Airlines for America (A4A) sent a letter to the leaders of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation-HUD urging them to oppose an increase of the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) in their bill. The airlines made numerous false claims about providing support to certain airport projects. The working group reached out to airports cited in the A4A’s letter to collect information that ACI-NA could use in drafting an industry response letter.

Membership Engagement Working Group

The purpose of this working group is to identify and implement membership outreach initiative. Working group membership includes officers and past chairs of this Committee. Efforts include phone calls and email communication to airports that have not been participating at the ACI-NA Business of Airports Conference, CFO Summit or any ACI-NA branded surveys, including the financial benchmarking survey and the business term survey, or airports that have newly appointed finance professional. This effort would help ensure that we engage as many airports as possible in the Committee projects and events.

Working Group 2019 Chair

Brian McGonagle
Department Director of Finance
Lee County Port Authority Southwest Florida International Airport

  • Use the ACI-NA member airport list to identify participation in (a) 2017 Business of Airports Conference, (b) 2017 CFO Summit, (c) financial benchmarking survey, and (d) business term survey.
  • Develop a priority list of airports with low or no participation.
  • Develop slides introducing the ACI-NA Finance Committee, its working groups, activities, and resources.
  • Assign airports on the priority list to members of the working group to call or follow up with email to (a) determine reasons for low participation, (b) identify improvements ACI-NA can make, and (c) introduce committee.
  • Send out welcome letters to first-time attendees of the Business of Airports Conference and/or the CFO Summit. Connect with first-time attendees at the Conference to make them feel welcomed by the Committee.
  • This working group was formed to increase the participation of airports in relevant ACI-NA finance events and ACI-NA branded surveys. Members include officers and past chairs of the Finance Committee, who are tasked with outreach efforts. The working group developed a priority list of airports with low or no participation at the Finance Committee branded surveys or finance events for these outreach efforts. Slides were developed to introduce the Finance Committee, its working groups, activities and resources. Welcome letters from the Committee Chair were distributed to first time attendees of the Business of Airports Conference prior to the Conference.

Strategic Planning and Performance Management Working Group

The purpose of this working group is to promote the implementation of best practices in strategic planning, continuous forecasting/budgeting, performance measurement, enterprise risk management, and benchmarking principles and techniques at airports; and to standardize, improve, and implement related industry surveys.

Working Group 2019 Chair

Michael Hill
Charlotte Douglas International Airport

  • Conduct a follow-up survey of airports that completed the last benchmarking survey. The objective of this follow-up survey is to understand how airports use the benchmarking survey results, so that the benchmarking survey can be streamlined to provide better value to airports.
  • Form a taskforce to analyze the responses to the usage survey (Task #1) and pare down the benchmarking survey to a manageable number of metrics.
  • Conduct a webinar in mid-February to (1) present the results of the FY2016 benchmarking survey, and (2) present case studies on how airports use the survey data. Through the webinar, solicit volunteers for the taskforce in Task #2.
  • Conduct the ACI-NA Benchmarking Survey for FY2017.  Increase the number of participants through direct contact with the target airports, working to increase participation of small and medium hub airports and regain the participation of airports that responded to the benchmarking surveys before 2015.  Prepare a list of target airports, and assign outreach responsibility based on which committee member has the strongest existing relationship with a target airport.
  • Present the results of the FY2017 Benchmarking survey at the ACI Annual Conference and in another webinar in November 2018.

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 87 airports, consisting of 27 U.S. large hubs, 21 U.S. medium hubs, 20 U.S. small hubs, 8 U.S. non-hub/none airports, and 11 Canadian airports, responded to the 2018 survey (for FY17 results).  The final results were presented at the ACI-NA Annual Conference in Nashville in September. A webinar is planned for February 2019.
  • The working group conducted a usage survey as a follow-up to the 2017 Benchmarking Survey for FY2016 results. One common response from airports who did not participate in the FY2016 Survey was that it took too long to fill in the survey and that they were short-staffed. The working group formed a taskforce with representatives from airports of all sizes to streamline the survey to make it more appealing and useful to the users with the ultimate goal of increasing survey participation. This project kicked off in late April, and initial recommendations were received in early May. The next step is to obtain inputs from more airports and conduct a series of calls with the taskforce and ACI-NA to discuss the recommendations.

Interested in joining a working group?

Working group participation is open only to ACI-NA members. If you are a member and are interested in joining one of the Finance Committee’s five working groups, please contact Liying Gu.