Attention U.S. airline passengers …
If you have been waiting to see where the next new fee or increase in fees would come from, wait no more. The next shoe to drop may come, not from the airlines themselves, but from the airports.
U.S. airports are lobbying Congress to increase the limit on the “passenger facility charge” that passengers pay as part of their airline tickets. With fewer fliers and escalating construction costs, airports are suffering difficulties staying in the black.
USA Today reports that the “passenger facility charge” funds the building of runways, terminals and gates. The charge is currently at $4.50 for each leg of a trip with an upper cap of $18 per round trip. Airports are requesting an increase to $7.50 per leg with an overall cap indexed to the inflationary cost of construction.
A bill in the House to reauthorize the FAA proposes an increase to $7 a leg, but a Senate committee has voted to keep the per leg cost at $4.50.
Airlines, already under fire from passengers for the plethora of add-on fees, oppose the increase.
"All we're trying to do is keep up with inflation," says Todd Hauptli of the American Association of Airport Executives. He argues that the purchasing power of the facility charge has fallen by about 50% since 2000.
Increasing the cap to $7 "would impose an additional and unwarranted $2 billion-per-year tax increase on commercial passengers," James May, CEO of the Air Transport Association, the trade group representing most airlines, wrote to Congress earlier this year. "With airport revenue eclipsing record levels ... the imposition of an increased PFC tax is not only unwarranted, but will also further reduce demand for travel."
Airports have to apply for approval to the FAA for each project that will be funded by facility charge funds. They also use their own revenue from bonds and FAA grants to fund construction.
Funds from the passenger facility charge are supposed to be used only for construction projects that enhance safety, security or capacity, reduce noise or increase air carrier competition, according to the FAA. USA Today