Airline lobby slams fee increase to close TSA budget shortfall

The lobbying group for airlines is sharply criticizing lawmakers in the Senate for voting to increase the fees paid by passengers for aviation security. 

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted to approve a Homeland Security appropriations bill Tuesday that includes a one-way increase in the security fee for passengers from $2.50 to $5. Supporters of the measure said the money would be used to close a budget shortfall at the Transportation Security Administration.

Airlines for America (A4A) said lawmakers should have instead looked to streamline TSA’s operations.

ADVERTISEMENT
"It's a simple equation: When you add taxes, demand for air travel is dampened, resulting in lost jobs and lost air service," A4A President Nicholas Calio said in statement. 

A4A said the fee increase would cost airline passengers $700 million per year, and could result in 76,000 jobs being lost.

During Tuesday’s Appropriations Committee hearing, supporters of increasing the security fee argued that it was better to increase the cost of flying to people who use the aviation system rather than sticking the burden with the entire U.S. population of taxpayers.

Calio said flyers are already paying enough.

"Our customers today pay 20 percent — $60 on an average $300 domestic roundtrip ticket — of their ticket prices in taxes, on par with taxes for alcohol and tobacco, products taxed to discourage their use," he said.

An amendment offered by Republican members of the Appropriations Committee to remove the security fee increase from the Homeland Security bill was defeated on a 15-15 vote.