Poll: Majority of voters oppose airport fee hike

Poll: Majority of voters oppose airport fee hike
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A large majority of U.S. voters are opposed to an increase in the fee that is charged on airline tickets for airport improvements, according to a poll conducted by the group that lobbies for airlines in Washington that was released on Tuesday. 

The poll, which was conducted by Airlines for America (A4A), found that 82 percent of U.S. voters are opposed to the idea of increasing the Passenger Facility Charge that is currently added to each flight ticket purchase. 

The facility charge for airline passengers is currently $4.50, but airport groups in Washington have called for it to be nearly doubled to $8.50. 

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A4A President Nicholas Calio said the results of his group's poll showed the airport fee should be left alone. 

“The lack of a crisis in airport funding hasn’t prevented some from trying to invent one,” Calio said in a statement. “Since 2008, over $70 billion of airport capital projects have been completed, are underway or are approved by U.S. airlines and their airport partners at the nation’s largest 30 airports. Voters correctly believe that airports have plenty, yet passengers are taxed enough.”

The airline group is concerned about the possibility of an increase in the Passenger Facility Fee because Congress is scheduled to consider a new funding bill for the Federal Aviation Administration later this year.

The A4A group said its poll found that 65 percent of voters consider the Passenger Facility Charge a tax, and not a "user fee" as proponents of increasing the levy have labeled it. 

The poll also found that 48 percent of voters thought the amount current airport fees they pay on flight purchases were "about right." 

Calio said the findings should convince Congress to ground the proposal to increasing the Passenger Facility Charge.  

“Recent Congresses—under Democratic and Republican control—have held the line on a PFC increase,” he said. “They did so because passengers, airlines and the U.S. economy cannot afford higher taxes and fees, and because airports are capable of addressing capital needs through existing revenue streams. The same is true today, if not more so.”

Airport groups disputed the findings of the airline industry poll, saying that the survey was biased toward A4A's existing position.  

"Surprise, surprise, an airline-sanctioned survey reached a conclusion supported by the airlines," American Association of Airport Executives President Todd Hauptli said in a statement that was provided to The Hill. 

"We are eager to see how respondents view bag fees and other ancillary charges that hit passengers with billions of dollars in added costs that do nothing more than flow to the pockets of the airline industry," Hauptli continued.