Rep. Ted Budd Joins NC Delegation In Letter to Support for RDU Airport Renovation Funding

Washington, D.C. -- Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) joined the both North Carolina U.S. Senators and 7 fellow North Carolina members of Congress to send a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Steve Dickson regarding, “Raleigh-Durham International’s (RDU) ongoing efforts to undertake improvements to the airfield, terminals, ground transportation, and general aviation at the airport.”

The full text of the letter is below:

As members of the North Carolina Congressional Delegation we write in support of Raleigh-Durham International’s (RDU) ongoing efforts to undertake improvements to the airfield, terminals, ground transportation, and general aviation at the airport. These improvements outlined in RDU’s 25-year master plan, called Vision 2040, will allow the airport to continue to provide safe, reliable service to its customers while simultaneously serving as a major economic driver for the rapidly growing central piedmont of North Carolina. 

RDU is a catalyst for job creation, prosperity, and quality of life throughout North Carolina’s Research Triangle region, and its economic footprint continues to grow. The airport generates an estimated $15.1 billion in annual economic impact for the region and supports nearly 100,000 local and regional jobs. Ensuring the airfield can keep pace with customer demand over the next 25 years is a key pillar of the Vision 2040 plan. The cornerstone project of the plan is the replacement of the airport’s longest runway, 5L-23R, which is nearing its end of life due to pavement deterioration. This $366 million project will move the primary runway west, which will enable capacity expansion of RDU terminal 2.

Under current law FAA is authorized to award up to 75% of total project cost, yet it is our understanding that at this time FAA will only provide a fraction of that amount. Even with substantial local and airport fee increases and continued, recurring state funding, RDU will not be able to fund the overall capital infrastructure needed to meet the increasing aviation demand. This situation is exacerbated as, like most medium hub airports, RDU is required to return 75% of the entitlement dollars it generates. In other words, RDU returns $7 million to the Airport and Airway Trust Fund (AATF) annually, or a total of $75 million since 2010. Prior to the pandemic, RDU historically received only 7.2 cents in federal funding for every dollar of tax paid by RDU passengers into the AATF.

Given the long term fiscal situation and the ongoing disruption of air travel due to the COVID-19 global pandemic considerable federal grant funding is needed to ensure RDU can make these needed infrastructure improvements. Given the existing runway’s condition its replacement is critical and will require RDU to exhaust its cash reserves and max out its bonding capacity at the end of a 10-year period.  This massive expenditure will impact the airport’s ability to finance terminal expansion and dozens of other projects required to support regional growth. We hope you will work with our delegation and the FAA to find a suitable and equitable path forward to address this situation allowing the airport to expand and continue to serve as a central economic driver of the region’s economy.

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