USA TODAY says federal spending on low-priority airport projects hit a record $507 million in fiscal 2009, including many parking upgrades that score under 20 points on the FAA's 100-point scale. An FAA official says local priorities and airport growth are among the factors that must be considered when making grants, but the airlines say the focus should be on improving the overall efficiency of the aviation system. Funding for highly localized projects "could likely be better used on higher-priority projects like airspace modernization," says a spokesman for the Air Transport Association. "That would allow more flights and would reduce delays."
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