SOUTHWEST PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Officials gathered at Philadelphia International Airport Monday to kick off the fifth annual Infrastructure Week and to call for more funding for U.S. airports in general.
From the plan for a runway extension at Philadelphia International Airport to upgrading the airport's de-icing facility, these officials say, modernizing airports must be a priority.
"The future is about air and flight, and that's where our main focus needs to be," said Rep. Donald Norcross of New Jersey.
"We are way behind our competitors in investing and modernizing our airports," said U.S. Senator Chris Coons of Delaware. "Anybody who has taken a business trip or vacation to Western Europe or Asia comes back raving about how much more modern their airports and well as their rail and roads are."
Monday's event began in Baggage Claim F, PHL's most recently completed capital project.
From there, it was a bus tour of some of this airports modernization efforts.
In this bipartisan call, these officials said U.S. airports contribute more than $1.1 trillion to the economy each year.
PHL's total economic impact stands at $15.4 billion supporting more than 96,000 jobs.
"If we don't address the needs in our terminals as well as some of the critical pieces of infrastructure on our airfield, our airport will not be able to recognize its potential," said PHL's CEO, Chellie Cameron
So where would the money come from?
There are a number of ways to finance the improvements discussed Monday, including private activity bonds, municipal bonds and increased fees for passengers.
"Federally, since I serve in Congress, we need to find a bipartisan path forward to secure the future of the FAA," said Coons.
The president and CEO of the Airports Council International - North America says U.S. airports' infrastructure needs are significant, with nearly $100 billion needed over the next five years.
He says it's up to the president and Congress to work together to develop a comprehensive infrastructure plan.
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