ACRP Releases Report 90: Impact of Regulatory Compliance Costs on Small Airports

 The Airport Cooperative Research Program’s (ACRP) Report 90: Impact of Regulatory Costs on Small Airports identifies and quantifies the cumulative costs of complying with regulatory and other federal requirements at small and non-hub U.S. airports. The study’s original problem statement was initially submitted to ACRP by members of the ACI-NA Small Airports Committee.

The objectives of the research study were to 1) identify the compliance requirements applicable to small and non-hub airports during the period of 2000-2010 and to 2) quantify the costs, including initial costs and recurring costs, of federal requirements on small airports.

According the study findings, a total of 291 federal actions were adopted during the 10 year study period at a rate equivalent to one new compliance measure every 2 weeks. The majority of the compliance activity was associated with FAA and DOT requirements (more than one-half the total) and with security requirements (one-quarter).  Many new requirements add continuing costs to airports by specifying periodic updates, inspections and monitoring and these costs continue to grow. Moreover, published cost estimated for regulatory requirements understate the full compliance costs.

The original problem statement authored and submitted by the ACI-NA Small Airports Committee stated the following: Over time, federal, state and local government have gradually increased regulatory requirements on U.S. airports.  The costs associated with incorporating ongoing requirements in a wide array of subject areas have steadily added to the airport capital and operating costs.  This is a growing concern for small hub and non-hub airports that have limited staff and financial resources with which to fulfill their compliance responsibilities.  For many small airports, lower passenger enplanements limit their ability to raise revenue or cut costs significantly to make up for the costs of increased requirements. With budgets already stretched by operating costs and capital expenditures, many small airports are struggling to absorb compliance costs associated with the cumulative regulatory requirements.  While government agencies provide some funding for new regulatory initiatives, costs attributed to ongoing compliance remain unfunded.

At the request of the ACI-NA Small Airports Committee, ACI-NA plans to develop and issue an annual web-based survey where airports will be asked to track regulatory compliance/funding costs associated with identified regulations found within the survey.  The ACI-NA Small Airports Committee is planning to finalize survey details at their upcoming September 22 meeting in San Jose, California (in association with the ACI-NA Annual Conference & Exhibition).

The survey is expected to aid the ACRP study by providing current regulatory costs data at U.S. airports.  ACI-NA will use both the ACRP study and survey data to continue advocating for regulatory reform.