[Senate Report 116-296]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]

                                                       Calendar No. 589

116th Congress  }                                            {   Report
2d Session      }                                            {   116-296





                              R E P O R T

                                 of the



                                S. 4162

               November 16, 2020.--Ordered to be printed

 19-010                 WASHINGTON : 2020                
                     one hundred sixteenth congress
                             second session

                 ROGER F. WICKER, Mississippi, Chairman
JOHN THUNE, South Dakota             MARIA CANTWELL, Washington
ROY BLUNT, Missouri                  AMY KLOBUCHAR, Minnesota
TED CRUZ, Texas                      RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, Connecticut
DEB FISCHER, Nebraska                BRIAN SCHATZ, Hawaii
JERRY MORAN, Kansas                  EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts
DAN SULLIVAN, Alaska                 TOM UDALL, New Mexico
CORY GARDNER, Colorado               GARY C. PETERS, Michigan
MARSHA BLACKBURN, Tennessee          TAMMY BALDWIN, Wisconsin
MIKE LEE, Utah                       JON TESTER, Montana
RON JOHNSON, Wisconsin               KYRSTEN SINEMA, Arizona
TODD C. YOUNG, Indiana               JACKY ROSEN, Nevada
                       John Keast, Staff Director
               David Strickland, Minority Staff Director

                                                       Calendar No. 589
116th Congress   }                                             {   Report
 2d Session      }                                             {  116-296




               November 16, 2020.--Ordered to be printed


       Mr. Wicker, from the Committee on Commerce, Science, and 
                Transportation, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 4162]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, to 
which was referred the bill (S. 4162) to provide certainty for 
airport funding, having considered the same, reports favorably 
thereon without amendment and recommends that the bill do pass.

                          Purpose of the Bill

    S. 4162, the Airport Infrastructure Readiness Act of 2020 
(or AIR Act of 2020), is intended to mitigate the negative 
impact of the decline in passenger airline travel on airports 
receiving grants from the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) and 
those with Federal contract towers.

                          Background and Needs

    Beginning in February 2020, the global COVID-19 pandemic 
progressively brought air travel to a near standstill. 
Passenger airlines continue to be impacted by government-
imposed travel restrictions, businesses eliminating or reducing 
nonessential travel, and an overall significant drop in demand. 
For example, in July 2020, passenger boardings had declined 
approximately 73 percent compared to July 2019.\1\ As passenger 
traffic is used to calculate the amount of AIP entitlement 
funds that airports receive each year, the recent downturn in 
traffic would have a negative impact on the amount of those 
    \1\U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation 
Statistics, ``U.S. Airline July 2020 Passengers Decrease 73% from July 
2019 but Rise 30% from June 2020 (Preliminary),'' Sep. 8, 2020 (https:/
2019-rise-30-june-2020-preliminary) (accessed Oct. 22, 2020).
    This legislation would attempt to mitigate that impact by 
directing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which 
administers AIP, to calculate entitlements for primary airports 
in fiscal years (FYs) 2022 and 2023 based on calendar year 2018 
or 2019 passenger enplanements, whichever is higher. However, 
2020 or 2021 calendar year enplanements may be used if an 
airport has higher enplanements in those years than in 2018 or 
2019. This process would ensure that when the FAA calculates 
AIP entitlements, it uses pre-pandemic numbers rather than the 
significantly lower 2020 numbers, which will give primary 
airports more certainty as they plan for future infrastructure 
    For many airports that do not have federally staffed 
towers, the FAA Contract Tower (FCT) Program provides a 
critical service. The FCT Program consists of 256 contract 
towers in 46 States, which are staffed by private air traffic 
controllers.\2\ These towers are responsible for roughly 28 
percent of the Nation's air traffic control operations.\3\ The 
FAA requires that a benefit-cost analysis (BCA) be conducted 
for airports in the FCT Program, if year-on-year air service at 
the airport decreases by 25 percent or greater.\4\ The BCA 
assists the FAA in making determinations regarding the 
continuation of towers, and the share of the tower's costs that 
an airport may pay. However, given the impact of the COVID-19 
pandemic, many of these towers' operations have significantly 
declined, which would likely have a negative impact on the 
towers' BCA. In response, this legislation would waive the BCA 
for contract tower airports in FYs 2020 and 2021. S. 4162 is 
intended to provide certainty to airports regarding Federal 
support for their contract towers for FYs 2020 and 2021.
    \2\Federal Aviation Administration, ``FAA Contract Tower Program: 
About the FAA Contract Tower Program'' (https://www.faa.gov/about/
faa_contract_tower_program/) (accessed Oct. 22, 2020).

                          Legislative History

    S. 4162, the Airport Infrastructure Readiness Act of 2020, 
was introduced on July 2, 2020, by Senator Fischer (for herself 
and Senators Sinema, Cruz, and Duckworth) and was referred to 
the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the 
Senate. Senators Blackburn, Cornyn, Perdue, and Cramer were 
later added as cosponsors. On July 22, 2020, the Committee met 
in open Executive Session and, by voice vote, ordered S. 4162 
reported favorably without amendment.

                            Estimated Costs

    In accordance with paragraph 11(a) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate and section 403 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee provides the 
following cost estimate, prepared by the Congressional Budget 

    S. 4162 would temporarily modify the apportionment formula 
for Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants, which provide 
funding to sponsors for capital improvement projects related to 
airport safety, capacity, and security. In general, under 
current law, each airport's annual apportionment is based on 
the number of passengers at that facility during the previous 
calendar year. For 2022 and 2023, the bill would direct the 
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to calculate AIP 
apportionments based on the number of passengers at each 
airport in 2018, 2019, or the full calendar year prior to the 
current fiscal year, whichever would result in the highest 
    The AIP receives annual contract authority (a mandatory 
form of budget authority) in transportation legislation, and 
the outlays of that budget authority are considered 
discretionary because they are controlled by obligation 
limitations contained in annual appropriations acts. S. 4162 
would not provide additional contract authority for the AIP or 
authorize obligation limitations for the years affected by the 
bill. Therefore, CBO estimates that implementing the modified 
apportionment formula would not affect total AIP spending 
relative to CBO's projections under current law, though we 
expect implementing the bill could change the funding 
allocation among airports.
    In addition, S. 4162 would temporarily waive certain 
requirements for the FAA's contract tower program, which 
supports air traffic control towers that are staffed by private 
contractors. The FAA covers all operating costs of those 
facilities unless a tower's costs exceed its benefits (in those 
cases, the local tower sponsor is subject to cost sharing 
requirements). Generally, the agency only conducts benefit-cost 
analyses at fully funded contract towers if the operations at 
those facilities drop by 25 percent in a single year or by 55 
percent over a three-year period.
    The bill would prohibit the FAA from conducting benefit-
cost analyses on the basis of air traffic reductions is 2020 
and 2021, thus temporarily exempting certain contract towers 
whose costs exceed their benefits from cost sharing 
requirements. Accordingly, the FAA would spend more on those 
towers under the bill than otherwise expected under current 
law. CBO has no basis, however, for estimating how many 
contract towers would be subject to benefit-cost analyses and 
cost sharing requirements in the absence of further 
legislation. In light of that uncertainty, CBO cannot estimate 
the cost of implementing the contract tower provisions in S. 
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate Aaron Krupkin. The 
estimate was reviewed by H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy Director 
of Budget Analysis.

                      Regulatory Impact Statement

    Because S. 4162 does not create any new programs, the 
legislation will have no additional regulatory impact, and will 
result in no additional reporting requirements. The legislation 
will have no further effect on the number or types of 
individuals and businesses regulated, the economic impact of 
such regulation, the personal privacy of affected individuals, 
or the paperwork required from such individuals and businesses.

                   Congressionally Directed Spending

    In compliance with paragraph 4(b) of rule XLIV of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee provides that no 
provisions contained in the bill, as reported, meet the 
definition of congressionally directed spending items under the 

                      Section-by-Section Analysis

Section 1. Short title

    This section would provide that the bill may be cited as 
the ``Airport Infrastructure Readiness Act of 2020'' or the 
``AIR Act of 2020''.

Section 2. Airport improvement program apportionments to primary 

    This section would require the FAA to calculate AIP 
entitlements for primary airports in FYs 2022 and 2023 based on 
calendar year 2018 or 2019 enplanements, whichever is higher. 
It would allow 2020 or 2021 calendar year enplanements to be 
used if an airport has higher enplanements those years than in 
2018 or 2019.

Section 3. Air traffic control contract program

    This section would prohibit the Secretary of Transportation 
from conducting a benefit-cost analysis for airports in the 
contract tower program in FYs 2020 and 2021.

                        Changes in Existing Law

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new 
material is printed in italic, existing law in which no change 
is proposed is shown in roman):


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Subtitle VII--Aviation Programs

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Subchapter I--Airport Improvement

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Sec. 47114. Apportionments

    (a) * * *
    (b) * * *
    (c) Amounts Apportioned to Sponsors.--
            (1) Primary airports.--
                    (A) * * *

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                    (J) Special rule for fiscal years 2022 and 
                2023.--Notwithstanding subparagraph (A) and the 
                absence of scheduled passenger aircraft service 
                at an airport, the Secretary shall apportion in 
                fiscal years 2022 and 2023 to the sponsor of 
                the airport an amount based on the number of 
                passenger boardings at the airport during 
                whichever of the following years that would 
                result in the highest apportioned amount:
                            (i) Calendar year 2018.
                            (ii) Calendar year 2019.
                            (iii) The prior full calendar year 
                        prior to the current fiscal year.
            (2) * * *

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