by Keith Laing, The Hill Newspaper
A new measure from a key House panel would ground a proposal to nearly double the amount of money that airline passengers are charged to help pay for facility improvements.
Airport groups in Washington have been pushing Congress to nearly double the cap on the fee that is added to every plane ticket, which is known as the Passenger Facility Charge.
The increase would have hiked the maximum charge from $4.50 to $8.50 per flight segment.
The Federal Aviation Administration measure unveiled by the House Transportation Committee would keep the fee where it stands.
The proposal to increase the fees that paid by passengers for airport projects faced strong pushback from the airline industry, which argued that passengers are already charged enough fees when they purchase tickets.
“The truth is airports have the resources they need. Through partnerships with the airlines, billions of dollars collected from the government and from passengers, investment-grade credit ratings, access to the bond market, and the Airport and Airway Trust Fund; U.S. airports enjoy a wide variety of funding sources to pay for capital improvement projects,” Airlines for America said in a blog post last year that labeled the passenger fee increase an “airport tax.”
Airports argued that the passenger fee is long overdue for an increase since it has not been raised in 15 years.
“The PFC cap has not been adjusted since 2000, when Congress set it at $4.50,” the airport groups say on their website.
“However, rising construction costs have eroded the purchasing power of the PFCs by about 50 percent,” the airport groups continued. “Modernizing the PFC to $8.50 now and indexing it for inflation would restore its original purchasing power, providing local communities the ability to set their individual PFC user fees based on locally determined needs for ensuring the safety and security of their airports.”
Airport groups said Wednesday they will keep trying to push Congress to reconsider its decision.
“There is a long way to go before this legislation is ready for final adoption by the Congress,” they said.
Travel industry groups also vowed to fight for the passenger fee increase as the debate over the FAA bill moves forward in Congress.
“To prosper in a global economy, America needs not only an efficient air traffic system, but better connectivity and affordable options for passengers,” U.S. Travel Association President Roger Dow said in a statement. “That cannot be accomplished without improved infrastructure at our nation’s airports.”