Last thing passengers need is another increase in taxes

The recent letter from the American Association of Airport Executives failed to mention that airport tax revenue has grown considerably despite a decline in departures during the previous decade.

Congress allows airports to impose a tax on airline passengers called a passenger facility charge (PFC) — now set at $4.50 per passenger. In 2009, airports collected $2.5 billion in PFCs on top of more than $20 billion in passenger and airline related revenues. And that was on top of $1.1 billion in Recovery Act funds approved by Congress. No wonder airports (who also enjoy billions of dollars in unrestricted reserves) are among the few truly cash-rich entities in the aviation business today. 

Now, airports want Congress to approve a 56 percent increase in PFCs – from $4.50 to $7 per passenger to fund their ever-expanding claim of needs. Airport needs have jumped billions in the past few years while the rest of us have been cutting costs, rethinking capital improvements and slashing budgets. Their needs grow despite a 33 percent increase in airport rents and landing fees from 2000 to 2009. I suppose that when you have access to someone else’s money for “free,” an increase must sound like a good idea.

Amazingly, airports are also trying to convince Congress that this is not a tax increase. We all know better.

In these tough economic times, one of the few ways that Congress can give passengers a break is to say, “No more.” Passengers do not need another tax increase on top of the 21 percent ($64 in taxes) of a typical $300 ticket that already goes to airports and the federal government. Like the rest of us, airports must live in the real world and adjust their spending and so-called needs to today’s economy. Airlines and airports partner on many issues, including safety, security, customer service and environment. It is in our mutual best interest to oppose measures that further impair the industry’s fragile financial condition. The airports’ outrageous quest for a $2 billion annual tax increase is unjustified and should be rejected by Congress.