Airlines and airports are feuding over a political decision that could affect travelers’ wallets and determine the future of airport upgrades.
There is renewed debate over the U.S. Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) as President Barack Obama calls for an increase in its current cap of $4.50 per flight to $8, reports Travel Pulse. Airports are supportive of the measure, arguing it will help improve the country’s deteriorating airports. Airlines, however, oppose the increase, fearful that the higher fee will cause people to fly less.
Victoria Day, a spokeswoman for Airlines for America, the nation’s largest and oldest airline trade organization, told USA Today:
The [Government Accountability Office] reaffirmed what economists have long said — when costs are increased, as a PFC hike would do, demand is suppressed, which negatively impacts the economy, airline customers, employees and the communities we serve.
In a press release, the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) questioned the “continued opposition of the U.S. airline industry to a modest proposal from the airport community to modernize the local PFC program to provide airports additional local authority to address a large and growing infrastructure gap.”
The AAAE noted that while airlines have been able to increase revenue by imposing passenger fees anywhere from $25 to $200 for baggage and change fees, airports must rely on the federal government to approve PFCs that support airport capital projects.
AAAE also highlighted that the discrepancy in airline and airport revenues — with baggage fees now totaling nearly $1 billion a quarter for airlines, according to figures from the Department of Transportation. According to AAAE President and CEO Todd Hauptli, the DOT’s figures “highlight the significant disconnect that exists with our airline partners, who continue to oppose a long overdue adjustment in the arbitrary federal cap on local airport user fees while they grow increasingly reliant on baggage fees and other ancillary charges.”