Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

The latest general information on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is available on For USDOT specific COVID-19 resources, please visit our page.

Remarks at LaGuardia Airport on Investing in America's Airports

Monday, September 23, 2019

Remarks Prepared for Delivery by
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
Investing in America's Airports
LaGuardia Airport
New York, NY
Monday, September 23, 2019

Thank you, Jennifer. The new Administrator of the FAA, Steve Dickson visited LaGuardia recently to see all the work taking place—work that will position LaGuardia to benefit from current economic growth.

  • The U.S. economy grew by 2.8 percent in the first half of 2019
  • Businesses have added more than 6 million jobs since the 2016 election
  • The Unemployment rate is still a remarkable 3.7 percent—the lowest in 50 years.
  • And for the first time in many years, personal income is growing — rising 3.2 percent during the past 12 months. Nominal average hourly wage gains had not reached 3 percent in over 10 years. 
  • And that increase is benefiting the entire economy.   According to the FAA, U.S. civil aviation supports more than 5% of U.S. gross domestic product; $1.6 trillion in economic activity; and nearly 11 million jobs.

So, to help improve the Nation’s aviation infrastructure and keep pace with this growth, I’m pleased today to announce a new round of investment of more than $986 million in Airport Improvement Program grants.

These grants will fund improvements that will lead to safer airport operations, fewer airport delays, and more comfort for families and individuals traveling by air.

This investment will fund projects at 354 airports in 44 states, Puerto Rico and Micronesia.   The improvements include taxiways, runways, aprons and other critical infrastructure projects.

This is the fifth allotment of the total $3.18 billion in AIP funding allocated this year for airports across the United States. The full list of grant awards can be found at

With this last group of grants, the program will have provided aid to up to 1,558 airports in 49 states, Puerto Rico, and Micronesia.  These grants, coupled with private sector investments, are improving aviation safety, and reducing delays.

Airports across this great country have applied to receive these grants.  Some grants are going to airports serving large cities.  St. Petersburg-Clearwater International in Florida is receiving $19.7 million to rehabilitate a runway, while Philadelphia International is getting $13.4 million to build an aircraft rescue and firefighting training facility.

Rural America is also getting a fair share.  Seven Wisconsin airports will receive AIP grants, including Appleton International, which will get more than $4.7 million to expand an apron.  North Dakota will receive 9 AIP grants.  The Dickinson Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport will receive $13 million to extend a runway.

12 New York airports are receiving grants.  Three New Jersey airports are getting grants.  Five of these airports are owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

These five airports will receive a total of more than $55.8 million.  These airports are: JFK, Newark Liberty International, New York Stewart International, Teterboro Airport, and of course, this airport – LaGuardia.

  • LaGuardia is receiving a little over $7.3 million to rehabilitate runways and a taxiway.
  • JFK is getting more than $28.7 million to reconstruct and widen runways.
  • Stewart International is getting more than $10 million to rehabilitate a runway.
  • Newark Liberty International is getting more than $8.2 million to do runway and taxiway rehabilitation.
  • And Teterboro is getting $1.3 million to build a taxiway.

Each grant project aligns with the Department of Transportation’s top three priorities.

  • The first is: safety is always #1.
  • The second priority is rebuilding and refurbishing our country’s infrastructure. This is vital to our country’s productivity, economic vitality and quality of life for everyone.
  • And the third priority is preparing for the future – by engaging with emerging technologies to address legitimate public concerns about safety, security, and privacy, without hampering innovation.

Domestic and foreign airlines serving the U.S. carried a record one billion domestic and international passengers in 2018. This was a nearly 5% increase over the previous record high set in 2017.  And air travel is only going to increase.

These investments in improved aviation infrastructure will position all these communities to participate and benefit more fully in the growing economy.  That means more opportunities and a better quality of life for everyone.  Thank you.