US Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan announced today that the Commonwealth Ports Authority would be receiving $3,761,807 to replace 3 of the passenger loading bridges at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport. Congress provides the funding through the Airport Improvement Program administered by the Federal Aviation Administration.
“Improving the visitor arrival experience is a priority for the Marianas tourist industry,” Congressman Sablan said. “So, continuing robust funding for our airport facilities is a priority for me in Congress.”
The Airport Improvement Program provides about $3.2 billion annually for runways and taxiways and other capital projects at over 3,300 airports nationwide.
The funds are distributed from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund that is due for reauthorization by Congress by the end of fiscal year 2017. The Trust Fund is based mainly on a 7.5 percent tax paid on airline ticket purchases.
“Without this federal program that shares the taxes collected throughout our nation,” Sablan said, “small-hub airports, such as Saipan International, would be hard-pressed to come up with the millions of dollars that are continually needed to keep facilities up-to-date, safe, and in good repair.”
There are 72 small-hub airports in the US. They handle about 9 percent of passenger traffic, but receive 14 percent of airport improvement grants.