Since President Biden called on Congress to invest $25 billion in the countries’ airports at the end of March, industry leaders have described it as a ‘solid beginning’ to help the sector ‘taxi towards brighter days’. The government’s Airport Improvement Program has been designed to address safety improvements, boost capacity and update many of the country’s airports infrastructure which, according to ACI, have an average age of 40 years old.
The US aviation industry has faced a severe slowdown during the Covid-19 health crisis, incurring an estimated $5.5 billion in pre-tax losses during the first quarter of 2021 according to Airlines for America. However, air cargo reached an all-time high last year and continues to show promising growth for the rest of 2021. Although passenger numbers and revenues may take a few years to recover to pre-Covid levels, passenger safety and satisfaction has risen significantly, and this lays positive foundations for change.
The industry is now taking a collective deep breath and looking ahead to ensure the opportunities to safeguard and future-proof aren’t now overlooked. While the government’s spending plan is moving through Congress and hopes are high for a summer conclusion, we take a look at how infrastructure investment could help US airports of all sizes.
ACI encourages technology investment
Airports Council International (ACI) has been actively encouraging airport technology investment for a long time. It issued a report in March that detailed how global airports have been adapting to the fast-changing regulations, guidelines and requirements. In the US, biometric technologies to reduce the ‘hands-on’ approach and smart airports management have been high on the priority list to improve the passenger experience and increase safety.
Business intelligence and smart airport management tools work hand-in-hand with these technologies and can help improve operational processes across the board. This is where investments can really start to pay off, reducing dedicated infrastructure reliance, increasing resource flexibility and streamlining passenger management. According to the ACI, biometrics and smart technologies will be the focus of investment for more than half the world’s airports by 2023.
Key facts and goals set out by the US government
- Upgrades to Air Traffic Control systems
- Assist airports with investment in safety improvements
- Help airports pay for projects to boost capacity
- Address environmental projects
- Support Terminal renovations
- Improve multi-modal airport connections
- Develop airports infrastructure
An opportunity for change in the US aviation industry
Across the US and the rest of the world, airports of all sizes are recognising both the opportunity and the need for change in operational mindset. With the economic impact of Covid-19 far from over, future-proofing has never been more important.
The US aviation industry receives far less investment from the private sector than other countries and this debate has gained traction again in recent months in terms of much-needed infrastructural improvement. However, investment plans from the current government administration could provide the opportunity to drive the changes – at least, according to ACI, for the short-term.
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