Travel groups urge Congress to remove cap on airport fees

Travel groups urge Congress to remove cap on airport fees

Travel groups are calling on Congress to remove the federal cap on the amount of money that airports can charge passengers to help pay for facility improvements.

In a letter to the House and Senate on Monday, 145 organizations urged lawmakers to lift the $4.50 limit on the fee that is added to every plane ticket, known as the passenger facility charge (PFC).

The fee, which helps pay for major airport projects, hasn’t been raised in more than 15 years. But airports are facing more than $100 million in unmet infrastructure needs at the same time that the number of airline passengers is expected to grow, which will only further strain the system.

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"The health of our airport infrastructure is vital to passengers, the economy and our country's global competitiveness. The president campaigned on this issue," said Erik Hansen, vice president of government relations for the U.S. Travel Association.

"It's time for Congress to prioritize the interests of the broader travel industry and, as our letter shows, virtually everyone—save but a small handful of airlines—supports the Senate's approach to airport funding."

Airports have long pushed lawmakers to raise or lift the federal cap — an idea that a Senate spending panel endorsed for the first time earlier this year.

Supporters argue that lifting the PFC cap would allow airports greater flexibility to improve capacity, add runways, modernize facilities, reduce noise and stimulate competition among airlines.

The travel industry believes that the concept could gain traction under the Trump administration, because it would make airports less reliant on the federal government and would encourage more private-sector investment — two core principles that President Trump wants to include in his infrastructure proposal.

The idea of raising passenger fees for airport projects has faced fierce resistance from the powerful airline industry, however, which argues that passengers are already charged enough fees by the government when they purchase airline tickets.