Legislation could lead to expansion of Provo Municipal Airport

Last week, a piece of legislation passed the U.S. Senate that could directly impact airports across the country, including the Provo Municipal Airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act passed the Senate on April 19, and now moves on to the U.S. House of Representatives.

The act, if passed by the House and signed into law, will provide funding for expansion and development at smaller airports such as those in Provo and Logan, according to a press release from Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch’s office.

“As Utah grows, I’ve worked hard to help our infrastructure grow with it,” Hatch said in the release. “This bill includes crucial improvements that will make traveling to and from Utah easier and safer.”

Though not a sponsor of the bill, Hatch chairs the finance committee, and was responsible for several provisions in the bill.

Hatch’s office has worked closely with Salt Lake International Airport and many smaller airports to make sure the bill is meeting the needs of Utah’s airports.

“(Hatch’s office) has been calling us and other airports throughout the state to make sure that they are going in a direction that will be helpful to us,” said Steve Gleason, manager of the Provo Municipal Airport.

One provision Gleason particularly likes about the Senate’s bill is that it retains funding for air traffic control services.

Those services are critical to an airport like Provo, Gleason said, because its 100,000 operations a year make Provo Airport the second-busiest airport in the state.

Gleason compared a lack of air traffic control services to the busiest intersection in Provo operating without traffic signals.

“Air traffic control services are critical to us,” Gleason said. “We were known as one of the scariest airports to come into before we got ATC.”

A similar bill that originated in the House would privatize air traffic control, a controversial provision Gleason said might cause some problems. “I’m not sure how that will affect us yet,” Gleason said. “It’s good to see that (the Senate) passed the whole bill.”

The bill would also provide more security at small airports, and provides funding for airports to develop and expand, potentially increasing business and commercial capacities.

“Safe, efficient and reliable air travel is essential to the continued growth of Utah’s $7.89 billion tourism economy,” said Vicki Varela, managing director of the Utah Office of Tourism, in the press release.

“I appreciate Senator Hatch’s role in working to pass a bipartisan FAA Reauthorization bill in the Senate.”

By Katie England, Daily Herald

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