FAA Bill Would Bring Millions To GEG

By:  Colleen O'Brien, Reporter
Source: KXLY


Senator Maria Cantwell and Mayor Mary Verner came together Sunday to address the local implications of the U.S. Senate passing the FAA Reauthorization Bill. Both say the bill could bring millions to Spokane International Airport for technology and infrastructure improvements.

Cantwell, Verner and representatives from Spokane International Airport gathered at local small business Absolute Aviation Services to discuss the bill and the millions it could potentially bring to the local aviation industry.

?We want to keep growing that competitive edge that we have,? Cantwell said.

The bill, which passed with a near bipartisan 87-8 vote, authorizes $8 Billion in Airport Improvement Funds and could create 280,000 jobs nationally. Those hefty numbers have local implications, too.

?When you improve the efficiency of the airline system, and you improve the efficiency of airlines, it helps to continue to grow aerospace jobs,? Cantwell said.

With millions potentially on the way to GEG the airport says it would update its air traffic control system from the decades old system of radar to a digital plat form called NextGen. The money would also make way for more infrastructure updates including improvements to runways, deicing and snow removal procedures and warehouses.

?The Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill will innovate and modernize air travel, bringing more jobs and investment dollars to the region,? Cantwell said.

Jobs is a word Spokane needs to hear since the city is still struggling to climb out of the economic downfall. Mayor Mary Verner says this aviation investment is the next step in the city's plan to create a robust economy.

?This is our year to focus on rebounding, last year was all about positioning ourselves for the recovery and the recession and this year we're aggressively pursuing jobs and economic growth,? Verner said.

Spokane International Airport spokesperson Todd Woodard says approximately 2,200 jobs will be created over the next six years if money from the FAA Reauthorization Bill makes its way to the Inland Northwest. That's less than a job a day, but small businesses like Absolute Aviation Services are excited.

?The airlines are going to grow, they're going to be successful, if the airlines are successful they are our customers, then we'll be successful also,? General Manager Randall Julin said.

The bill now needs to make its way through the House and, if approved, will move to the President's desk. The money would then trickle into Spokane in the next year.