Airports are projecting they will need $94.4 billion of capital over the next five years, and may rely less on bond issuance to fulfill those needs, according to a report released Friday by the trade group Airports Council International-North America.
About $23.7 billion of those capital costs would be essential to meet traffic needs, but a funding source has not yet been identified and those projects may not be able to go forward without funding, the report said.
Estimates were based on responses from 73 large, medium, and small hub airports out of a total of 140 in the nation, and on federal data for non-hub and other airports.
The report does not estimate how much funding is available for the projects, only how much is needed.
The survey results underscore a trend of cutbacks by some airports while others are expecting continued growth, ACI-NA said. While the estimates for the next five years are 32% higher than the estimates made four years ago, they are only 8% higher than estimates from two years ago.
One reason for the slowdown of projected growth is that some airports have been shelving major projects, the group said, citing canceled projects at airports in Columbus, Oakland, and Sacramento.
About two-thirds of the medium hubs surveyed showed decreases in their five-year capital projections for this year; however, two-thirds of large hubs have increased their capital needs estimates because of continued congestion.
The report said airports are expected to fund their capital needs mostly with bonds. At least 30% of airport financing would come from bonds, according to the survey.
In addition, passenger facilities charges would provide about 22% of the capital funds, but some PFC revenues would also go toward backing bonds, meaning that as much as 50% of the funding could in fact come from bonds. That amount is lower than it was two years ago, though, said Liying Gu, economic affairs and research senior director for ACI-NA.
The findings differ from a report issued by the Federal Aviation Administration in October that estimated $49.7 billion of capital needs between 2009 and 2013 - a bump of about 21% over its previous estimate.
But the survey included only needs eligible for airport improvement program funds, whereas ACI-NA included all "essential capital needs," including those that could be paid for with bonds, passenger facilities charges, and local funding.