2014? I know airports were holding off because
of the economy. Do you see that turning around?
Do you see money freeing up again and airports
starting to move forward with projects?
SANDIFER: I’m seeing less reluctance to go
forward with projects based on the economy.
I mean, if you look at, as an example, AAAE’s
construction backlog survey of infrastructure
projects, it is significant. It exceeds by many-fold
the AIP program on an annual basis. In my mind,
there is not a reluctance to execute. There is an
understanding that there is just not enough
money to go around, and I have to make choices
on a daily basis of where I am going to put my
So our clients want to make the investment.
They see the need to continue to maintain and
upgrade their infrastructure, but they just don’t
have enough money from state, federal, or local
sources to do that.
A lot of our clients are really looking for
innovative ways to use the funding that they have
in place. A good example would be — take a client
out on the West Coast who said, “You know what?
I am going to plan, design an environmentally
clear project using state-only money, and there’s
a grant program in place to do that. Then I am
going to leverage my federal money going forward
to actually build it.” So they are looking within
the existing grant structures across the board to
find ways to get it done in a timely manner but
really no reluctance to execute projects, just an
understanding that I’ve got limited resources and
I’ve got to make choices.
BOGGUS: Well, there seems to be a constant flow
of projects. I agree with Bill that there is a pent-up
demand, and I don’t know that we will ever satisfy
that pent-up demand with the funding that’s
there now. There is the state of repair that has to
happen; otherwise, we have much greater demand
than we have funding to provide for.
I see more and more people looking at trying
to create projects that will bring them additional
revenue because these days, it’s not about enticing
new carriers or new traffic in a build-it-they-will-come mentality. It’s more about bringing demand
and what projects can you do, whether inside
the airport property line or outside the airport
property line, that will drive additional demand
and, therefore, grow your airport and grow your
region. We are seeing more of that.
I expect a similar amount of projects going
forward. We’ve seen a little bit of slow-down
due to sequester. Certainly, when we had the
government shutdown, we had a lot of things go
really slow and stop. I am not convinced we’re
out of the woods on that as we go into 2014
either, which could be problematic.
I think funding will be very choppy, which
will make long-term big projects difficult. CIPs
aren’t being updated and kept up as much. Some
airports don’t even do CIPs formally anymore.
So funding has made it interesting, at least for
consultants, many times to get out and try to find
out what is going to come down the road in the
next five, 10, 15 years.
CHANG: From the planning side, projects that
advance from planning into construction are
projects that have long-term benefits and can be
broken down into incremental projects — smaller
projects that can provide relief to current issues
while setting up later stages to start at defined
It’s worth noting Orlando’s expansion plans
where they have approved a very long-term project,
but they have set trigger points that would set
that project going forward. So, there is correlation
between the “Can I pay for it?” fundability and the
decision of when to go forward.
BREWER: Katherine, how about from the
airlines’ perspective? Do you see a willingness to
invest further in airports and having their own
construction projects take place where they were
holding off in the past?
GOUDREAU: There is a willingness as long as
the understanding is what is the return, and that
is not always a cash return. Like I said earlier, it
may be a passenger experience return that benefits
that airline in terms of their likability in the
community and their ability to attract customers.
But again — speaking from a consultant
representing an airline perspective, rather than all
new projects — look at existing facilities, what can
be done to improve the maintainability of them,
to make them cleaner, brighter, more inviting to
the passengers. What can you do to decrease O&M
costs, whether that’s the retro-commissioning or
small projects, incremental projects, which both
Roddy and Joe alluded to? What can you do for the
passenger experience? Where can you generate
more revenue? Is that concessions of some sort?