Airport group asks Obama for flexibility in passenger fees to fund construction

A day after asking members of the deficit-reduction supercommittee to provide them more flexibility to finance construction projects, the trade association representing airports made the same request Thursday of President Obama.

Airports Council International-North America President Greg Principato wrote a letter to Obama on Thursday echoing letters he sent to all 12 members of the supercommittee. In it, Principato asked Obama to include removing restrictions that currently exist on fees that can be charged to passengers in the job-creation package the president has promised to announce when Congress returns to Washington.

Mr. President: On behalf of Airports Council International-North America, I am writing to ask you to include policies that will help rebuild our nations airport infrastructure while also creating tens of thousands of jobs in your upcoming job creation plan, Principato wrote. Airports have demonstrated time and again that they are economic engines and job creators for large and small communities across the country.

On Wednesday, Principato made the same request to members of the supercommittee of lawmakers that will make recommendations this winter on reducing the federal deficit, as part of the deal reached earlier this month to raise the federal debt ceiling.

He argued again to Obama that allowing airports to set the rates for fees such as the Passenger Facility Charge themselves (such fees currently are capped by law) would stimulate the stagnant U.S. economy.

If given the opportunity to do so by Congress, airports could immediately begin raising their own revenue through this local fee, paid only by passengers who use the airport, Principato wrote to the president. The money is plowed back into the system to make critical safety and security improvements at the local airport, thereby not only addressing our infrastructure needs, but also creating local jobs.

The current cap on the PFC fee set by Congress is $4.50. Principato said the fee raises about $2 billion annually for airport construction projects.

President Obama has promised to announce a proposal to stimulate job creation when Congress returns in September from its traditional summer recess.

Principatos full letter can be read here.