Airports are Terminally Challenged

America’s airports are a fundamental component of our nation’s transportation infrastructure. In 2017, 1.7 billion passengers and 31.7 million metric tons of cargo traveled through U.S. airports. With a national economic impact of $1.4 trillion, airports contribute more than seven percent to the U.S. gross domestic product and support over 11.5 million jobs around the country. To meet the capacity demands of the future with safe, efficient, and modern facilities that passengers and cargo shippers expect, airports need to make new investments to maintain and modernize our nation’s airport infrastructure.

While passenger and cargo traffic through airport facilities continues to grow at a record pace, our outdated aviation infrastructure is not keeping up with demand. As a result, far too many airports around the country are overcrowded and cramped. This survey shows that America’s airports require more than $128 billion in infrastructure upgrades by 2023, with more than 56 percent of the needs inside our aging terminals.

Inadequate airport infrastructure that fails to meet the growing needs of local businesses and tourists puts in jeopardy the continued economic growth of American cities, states, and regions. From established metropolitan areas to burgeoning growth regions to small communities, sustained economic growth depends on the expansion of, and investment in, local airports. As the U.S. economy recovered from the significant economic downturn experienced during the Great Recession, the national unemployment rate has decreased and personal discretionary spending has increased. As such, enplanements nationwide have dramatically improved, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 3.8 percent between 2013 and 2017, putting further pressure on our already overloaded airport facilities.