Bellingham Airport’s AIP Grant History

When the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) became law in 1982, Congress authorized the collection of aviation taxes, to be redistributed by FAA. This has grown into an enormous fund for airport development. Paired with the required citizen processes that many find to be nothing but a show, AIP funding frequently stirs strong animosity.

Here are a few tips (and links) to fully understand AIP at Bellingham:

  • An excellent article, Feds keep little used Airports in Businesswas written by Thomas Frank and published in USA Today on 9/17/09. It is thorough, and delivers the pros and cons of AIP. In many communities, enormous amounts of air passenger taxes are being directed by FAA to subsidize excessive development at airports serving a tiny few. And, many contend that AIP spurs many projects that would never even be considered, if not for this available, practically-free money. Be sure to link to the online version, as it provides links to airport examples and other very informative content.

    [link to USA Today online copy]

    [link to 6p color PDF copy]



  • AIP Revenues are mostly generated from commercial passenger taxes.


  • AIP Spending has increased from $450Million annually in 1982 to nearly $4Billion annually today.


  • AIP creates a strong incentive for airports to add commercial passenger numbers, as those numbers translate to lucrative entitlement payments. Thus, an airport with 10,000 annual emplanements is called a Primary Airport and can expect an annual revenue stream via AIP payments of at least $1Million from FAA. A key requirement is that they have a valid Airport Master Plan … which typically costs a half million dollars, and is normally paid for using AIP funds.



The following is a partial history of AIP funding FAA has approved for Bellingham. This includes grants from 2003 through 2011, as identified in an online search of FAA records.

Format: (year, BLI, grant type, grant number, amount, project description)

2003 BLI P 32 $1,641,340: Rehabilitate Taxiway; Rehabilitate Runway Lighting – 16/34; Construct Apron; Security Enhancements

2004 BLI P 33 $423,851: Improve Airport Drainage, Rehabilitate Taxiway

2005 BLI P 34 $1,391,077: Acquire Handicap Passenger Lift Device, Rehabilitate Taxiway [2/2]
2005 BLI nil 35 $404,442: Modify Terminal Building

2006 BLI P 36 $997,500: Acquire Land for Development, Construct Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting Building, xpand Apron, Modify Terminal Building, Rehabilitate Apron [Terminal apron design only], Rehab RY16/34, Update Airport MP Study.

2007 BLI P 37 $3,182,009: Construct Taxiway, Rehabilitate Apron, Rehabilitate Runway – 16/34, Rehabilitate Taxiway

2008 BLI P 38 $3,484,557: Construct Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting Building, Construct Taxiway, Runway Incursion Markings, Security Enhancements
2008 BLI nil 39 $1,232,000: Rehabilitate Apron

2009 BLI P 40 $847,275: Acquire Emergency Generator, Acquire Snow Removal Equipment, Rehabilitate Runway [Design] – 16/34, Rehabilitate Taxiway
2009 BLI nil 41 $780,746: Rehabilitate Taxiway
2009 BLI nil 42 $1,500,026: Rehabilitate Apron
2009 BLI nil 43 $1,555,789: Acquire Emergency Generator, Acquire Friction Measuring Equipment, Acquire Snow Removal Equipment, Rehabilitate Runway [Design] – 16/34, Rehabilitate

2010 BLI 44 $20,156,094: Acquire Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting Vehicle, Rehabilitate Runway – 16/34, Rehabilitate Taxiway
2010 BLI 45 $7,110,930: Rehabilitate Runway – 16/34, Rehabilitate Taxiway

2011 BLI 46 $487,041: Update Airport Master Plan Study
2011 BLI 47 $1,620,636: Acquire Interactive Training System, Acquire Snow Removal Equipment, Improve Airport Drainage
2011 BLI 48 $371,943: Acquire Aircraft Deicing Equipment, Construct Apron [Design], Expand Terminal Building, Improve Access Road

2012 BLI 49 …Port accepted $2.8M in july 2012?

Total AIP from FAA to Port of Bellingham since 2003:

$50 Million