On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2024 by a vote of 387 to 26 — following the U.S. Senate’s 88 to 4 vote. Construction firms working on airport projects benefit from this legislation, which President Joe Biden has since signed into law, in multiple ways.

One, there is a $19.7-billion authorization for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP). Of that, $3.35 billion is available for fiscal year 2024. The bill also allocates $4 billion per fiscal year between 2025 through 2028. Organizations ranging from the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association (SMACNA) to the Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), and political figures ranging from Republican Texas Senator Ted Cruz to Rick Larsen, the chief Democrat of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, celebrated the passage of legislation wrought through compromise.

"Our highly skilled contracting firms know as well as anyone that the nation is seeing a sustained and robust growth of construction activity following the enactment of major policy changes, especially the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the IRA private sector tax incentives for expanded economic activity in countless airports and boosted the development of countless new projects for airport and grid energy efficiency with more airport mega projects bidding now," SMACNA said in a statement.

"Therefore, our contractors, working on almost every significant airport expansion, upgrade or new construction project across the nation, endorsed the compromise FAA reauthorization represented by H.R. 3935," the statement concluded.

In their statement, SMACNA thanked Cruz, Larsen and Sam Graves, a Missouri Republican in the House, as well as Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell, a Washington Democrat.

“Sheet metal work is unique among the trades. It is the only one that takes raw material and fabricates the architectural pieces, ductwork and HVAC systems they install. Sheet metal contracting delivers myriad projects like airport construction and retrofits, commercial office towers, stadiums, hospitals, microchip and EV battery plants, strip malls and data centers," said Aaron Hilger, SMACNA national CEO. “SMACNA contractors are working on almost every significant airport expansion, upgrade or new construction project across the nation.”

The law addresses many of the headline problems in the airline industry that have persisted in the aftermath of the global pandemic, including congestion and safety.

“I am immensely proud that our bipartisan FAA reauthorization, which received overwhelming support from lawmakers in both parties, is now law. Our legislation will make flying faster, easier, and more enjoyable for passengers while improving airports and air traffic control so flying is even safer," Cruz said in a statement, noting the law now requires airlines to seat families together, adds extra layers of accountability for aircraft certification and requires the FAA to install Terminal Flight Data Manager (TFDM), an air traffic control technology that will help address congestion. 

The FAA reauthorization included provisions to allow for expedited airport environmental reviews to accelerate terminal construction projects as well. Environmental review delays associated with the Greater Rockford Airport Authority (GRAA) developing an ancient prairie cost taxpayers close to $1 million in delays, per reporting by the Rockford Register Star.

Section 742 of the reauthorization legislation is dedicated to retrofitting HVAC and boosting energy efficiency at all the nation’s airports. There is also $1 billion to make airports more resilient to the impacts of weather and climate change.