WASHINGTON, D.C. – Commerce Committee Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV today touted the economic benefits of his FAA bill – the first jobs bill of the 112th Congress. The comprehensive, bipartisan, job-creating legislation passed the U.S. Senate last year, 93-0.
“I am glad that we have made the FAA bill the first piece of legislation out of the gate for the 112th Congress,” Chairman Rockefeller said during a conference call with reporters. “We’re setting the tone with a bill that will support existing jobs and create new ones in West Virginia and across the country.”
Chairman Rockefeller’s full statement follows:
“Aviation represents one of the most important pieces of our economy, employing 11 million people and generating $1.2 trillion in annual economic activity. With airports across the United States, this bill is critical to our nation’s economy. It affects people in large cities and small rural communities. This legislation will modernize the industry, directing resources towards new technology to make air travel safer and faster.
“The bill will help the economy in many ways. By improving air service for rural communities, such as those in West Virginia, we’ll create new opportunities for small businesses to move their products and remain competitive. We know from economists and business leaders that regional airports are drivers of economic growth across the country. They attract businesses, allow tourists to come and go; and create spin-off jobs, such as in the restaurant and retail sector.
“This legislation also invests in the FAA’s airport improvement program (AIP) account, which funds aviation infrastructure at airports across the country. These projects support and create high-paying construction and engineering jobs. According to the American Association of Airport Executives, $1 billion in AIP funds could generate up to 35,000 new jobs. The bill authorizes $8 billion in AIP funds, which could lead to the creation of up to 280,000 jobs – according to experts who will be talking to you later in this call.
“I want to leave you with two other statistics about how good this bill will be for our economy: The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that for every $1 billion in infrastructure investment - coupled with a 20 percent local match - approximately 34,779 jobs are supported – many in direct construction-oriented jobs.
“Finally, flight delays cost the U.S. economy approximately $33 billion per year, according to federal studies. Those delays in 2007 cost passengers $16.7 billion and the airlines another $8.3 billion. Other studies have confirmed this so we know – reducing delays at our airports with better landing and takeoff technology will cut down on wasted time, save fuel and be better for the economy.
“Our aviation system is fundamental to our communities and our nation’s long-term economic growth. This is a significant FAA package that will create and support jobs, make air travel safer, and increase access for rural communities. I am committed to getting this FAA bill to the President’s desk this year.”