TCAA supports legislative and regulatory policies that advance the following objectives:
- Tax policies that encourage the growth of commercial passenger and cargo air service in Texas
TCAA supports current, longstanding state policies that exempt aviation fuel from sales tax. This policy is a key cost differentiator for Texas airports when marketing our state and our airports to airlines for retention and growth of air service.
TCAA opposes tax policy initiatives that single out airport revenue streams for additional or increased state taxes, including taxes on airport parking, airport concessions and airport commercial development. These revenue streams are used to finance airport capital and operating requirements and help keep airport costs at competitive levels compared to those charged by airports from other states and nations.
Rationale: The global airline industry is consolidating and faces ongoing challenges regarding fleet capacity, costs, profitability and maintenance of service. Nationwide, all major legacy carriers have declared bankruptcy or undergone mergers resulting in financial and corporate restructuring, including carriers operating and headquartered in Texas. All airlines engage in an ongoing process of re-evaluating their network plans and the communities that they serve. This industry dynamic will affect future commercial air service to Texas airports of all sizes. Operating costs, particularly fuel costs, are critical factors in airline profitability and decision-making on which communities receive air service. Aviation fuel taxes impact not just airline profitability, but also the economic viability of numerous companies and jobs in aeronautical services industries.
- Economic development tools that attract new business to Texas
TCAA supports public policies designed to encourage job creation and capital investment in Texas, including local government authority to grant property tax abatements under carefully proscribed conditions; the sales tax exemption for manufacturing equipment and machinery.
TCAA supports, with appropriate oversight, continuation of the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) and the Texas Emerging Technology Fund (TETF), which have been successful tools in attracting job creation and investment to the State of Texas.
TCAA encourages legislation that would create a state incentive program and strategies to encourage attracting new long-haul international air service to the State of Texas, and incentives and programs to help medium and small communities in the state retain or develop new air service.
TCAA supports legislation that would create incentive programs and strategies which encourage intrastate and domestic regional air service to help medium and small communities in the State of Texas expand air service.
Rationale: For many years the State of Texas has led the nation in job creation and capital investment, which has resulted in increased demand for commercial passenger and cargo air service. This is due in large measure to the state’s geographic location, low cost of living, skilled and available workforce, and attractive tax and regulatory policies.
Economic development incentives offered by state and local governments have assured the competitive posture of Texas in the international competition for job creation and capital investment. Texas commercial airports work closely with local chambers of commerce on development projects in and around airports, and also on leveraging the air service profile of the airport toward economic development prospects of the community.
- International tourism/convention marketing and promotion
TCAA supports full appropriation of state funds raised under existing dedicated state taxes for purposes of marketing and promoting Texas as a business and leisure destination. We encourage the State to focus its marketing resources internationally, with the observation that international visitors to Texas tend to call on multiple Texas cities during their time in the state.
TCAA encourages the State of Texas to evaluate opportunities that may exist for the state partner with Brand USA (formerly the Corporation for Travel Promotion) on international marketing programs. Brand USA administers approximately $100 million annually for the purposes of promoting the United States as a destination for international visitors, in partnerships with state and local government and private entities.
Rationale: Conventioneers and leisure travelers are key drivers of demand for domestic and international air service. Texas commercial airports work closely with their local convention and visitors bureaus and with the travel and tourism industry on marketing our communities and the state to visitors. While there are robust state and local marketing initiatives targeted at the domestic travel markets, benchmarking by TCAA airports indicates that other states are far more aggressive in investing resources toward attracting international visitors to the state. While the State of Texas enjoys an iconic brand internationally, many international business and leisure travelers first destination preference for travel to the US is the east or west coasts. In addition a new federal law has created significant sources of funds that may be available to the state and local governments for international marketing and promotion purposes.
- Assuring the safety and convenience of the traveling public
TCAA supports the federal role in assuring safety and security at our airports and for the national and international aviation system. We are committed to working closely with our federal partners on enhancing the safety and security and improving passenger convenience at our airports.
Rationale: Since the terrorists attacks of September 11, 2001 policymakers, law enforcement officials and the travelling public have grappled with how to balance the imperatives of safety and security with the goals of efficient and convenient passenger transit in the aviation system. Texas commercial airports are the “platform” and the “landlord” on which several law enforcement agencies simultaneously perform their missions on a daily basis in a cooperative and collaborative manner. Federal regulatory and law enforcement agencies operating on Texas commercial airports include the Federal Aviation Administration, Customs & Border Protection, Transportation Security Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration and others. State & local law enforcement agencies operating on Texas commercial airports include the Texas Department of Public Safety, the public safety departments of airport authorities created under state law, the municipal police departments of cities operating commercial airports, transit agencies operating on airport premises, as well as municipal police departments of cities that include the premises of commercial airports.
Texas commercial airports work closely with airlines and law enforcement at all levels to assure the safety and convenience of passengers. Of particular note is the recent shift in federal policy away from a “one size fits all” screening model for air passengers, toward a “risk based “ approach that expedites passenger screening for low risk categories of passengers. Examples of these programs include the “Pre-Check” program of the Transportation Security Administration, and the “Global Entry” program of Customs and Border Protection.
- Workforce initiatives to provide aviation-related opportunities to Texans
TCAA supports initiatives by the Legislature and state agencies that highlight the importance of the workforce needs of the aviation industry in Texas, and creative partnerships between two and four year higher education institutions, state & local government, and aviation stakeholders to address the workforce needs of the industry.
Rationale: Airlines and airports employ over 714,000 Texas citizens, and the demographics of the industry are such that the workforce is relatively older compared to the general population of the State. There are a variety of well-paid positions in the aviation industry, including operators, planners, administrators, technicians, mechanics, engineers, pilots, and customer service specialists. While many of these jobs require four year or advanced degrees, there are many positions that can be filled by individuals with a two-year or technical degree.
TCAA supports legislation that facilitates the development and maintenance of infrastructure to meet the needs of our growing population, foster safe communities, promote job creation, sustain our economic prosperity and minimize transit time.
Rationale: Infrastructure is the very foundation upon which the Texas economy balances. Improving and maintaining state infrastructure, including a transportation system that connects our cities and airports while facilitating the movement of passengers, is important to the future growth of our state’s airports.
- Operations and Administration
TCAA will monitor legislation affecting these areas of airport operations and administration, and in cooperation with our owner cities offer TCAA’s perspective to policymakers on the impact of such legislation and regulations on the operations of Texas commercial airports.
Rationale: Local governments created by state law own and operate Texas commercial airports. As such, our airports work closely with our owner cities to assure efficient and effective compliance and administration with state law in areas including land use, surface transportation, environmental compliance, contracting and procurement, and open meetings and records.
ADOPTED BY THE TEXAS COMMERCIAL AIRPORTS ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF DIRECTORS, this 13th DAY OF OCTOBER 2014.