As the official holiday travel season comes to an end this Sunday, it is projected that nearly 46 million passengers will have flown on U.S. airlines this holiday season, a 5.2 percent increase from last year.
The uptick in passengers is driven by the historically low cost of airfare and increased consumer choice as options exists for passengers of every budget. As we enter 2019, more Americans are flying than ever before while paying less to do so.
So naturally, House Democrats have a plan to make flying more expensive.
As Democrats assume control of the House, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), the new Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has announced his plan to nearly double the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC), a fee charged to airline travelers to fund airport improvement projects.
Currently, the PFC is capped at $4.50 per enplaned passenger at commercial airports controlled by public agencies. DeFazio has previously pushed legislation to raise the PFC to $8.50 and is determined to prioritize the issue as he assumes leadership of the Transportation Committee.
DeFazio claims that the fee hike is necessary to fund infrastructure spending at airports but ignores the fact that airports ended 2017 with $14.5 billion of unrestricted cash and investments on hand. According to FAA reports, U.S. airports brought in a record $30 billion of revenue in 2017 with PFC collections at an all-time high with year-end estimates projected to hit $3.6 billion.
Additionally, the Airport and Airway Trust Fund has an uncommitted balance of nearly $6 billion for Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds. This past year, Congress provided an additional $1 billion in AIP grants for airport improvement during FAA Reauthorization.
With so much cash on hand and record levels of airport revenue, there is simply no case to be made that our publicly controlled airports are desperate for infrastructure funds. Taxes already make up over 20% of the cost of an average domestic flight, our lawmakers shouldn’t be adding to this burden by hiking the PFC.
Americans for Tax Reform urges lawmakers to reject this unnecessary effort to raise the Passenger Facility Charge.