The executive directors and CEO’s of California’s 30 commercial airports, including Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) have formed a statewide airport consortium, the California Airports Council (CAC), charged with ensuring that state airports are prepared to meet the growing demand for trade and tourism.

“Airports play a critical role in the fabric of the state’s economy, providing billions in revenue and tens of thousands of jobs statewide,” said John Martin, executive director of San Francisco International Airport and president of the council.

Airport council members said that the air travel industry’s importance to California’s transportation and economic future influenced the group to form, and the council will dedicate its work to advocacy and education on issues facing commercial airports. The council will serve as a resource for federal, state and local policymakers.

“The California Airports Council provides an important vehicle for collaboration on major challenges, such as moving an increase to the Passenger Facility Charge through Congress. An increase is necessary to finance modernization as well as safety and security projects to protect passengers and planes,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said.

Council members note that among the high-priority issues for the CAC is passage of the pending Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Bill, which contains several issues key to airport operations and California’s local and regional economies, such as a Passenger Facility Charge increase. The charge may be added by airports to each passenger ticket to help finance local airport-related projects, including terminal enhancements, gate expansions, noise abatement efforts and public transit systems at airports.

The CAC is seeking to increase the charge from $4.50 to a cap of $7.50 and says escalating construction costs are one of the main reasons for the proposal. The PFC was last raised in 2000.

The CAC will meet on a regular basis at various airports throughout the state.