The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced plans to distribute $779 million in supplemental funding for infrastructure grants to 127 airports across all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

“This supplemental funding allows us to invest in important infrastructure needs at the nation’s airports, especially those serving smaller and rural communities,” DOT secretary Elaine Chao said in a statement May 15.

The latest tranche of funding will go toward construction and equipment to increase airport security, capacity and safety. The funds are separate from the $3.31 billion awarded to airports as part of the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) during FY 2018, as well as the $205 million awarded as part of the first tranche of supplemental AIP funds in September 2018.

Projects selected to receive the funds will include runway reconstruction and rehabilitation, as well as the maintenance of taxiways, aprons and terminals. These projects are intended to boost airport safety, emergency, response capabilities and capacity, and will support “further potential growth and development within each airport’s region,” DOT said in a statement.

“Under the Secretary’s leadership, the FAA is administering the supplemental funding to strengthen the safety and efficiency of America’s airports,” DOT said. “These investments increase the nation’s competitiveness and improve the quality of life for the traveling public.”

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 required FAA – which is housed within DOT – to give “priority consideration” to smaller and more rural airports when awarding supplemental funding for airport improvements. The law says no local match is required for non-primary airports to receive the grants, and stipulates that FAA must obligate the supplemental funding by September 2020.

The announcement was applauded by Airlines for America (A4A), which said in a statement the grant awards “should make members of Congress think twice” about a proposal to lift the Passenger Facility Charge cap from $4.00 to $8.50 per flight segment.

“In contrast to most American infrastructure such as roads and bridges – which by all accounts are crumbling and out of funding – investment in airports continues to be a success story. Lawmakers should focus on the real infrastructure needs facing the country. Airports don’t need more money, and passengers don’t want a PFC increase,” said A4A VP-communications Vaughan Jennings.

Ben Goldstein, ben.goldstein@aviationweek.com