In a recent article, we highlighted a proposal by The U.S. Travel Association, the trade association for the American travel industry, which would eliminate five kinds of airfare taxes in exchange for raising the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) that has been capped by Congress at no more than $4.50 per seat, a cap that has been in place since 2000. The trade association has stated that the revenue is needed to revamp the U.S.’s ageing air travel infrastructure.
The proposal to raise the PFC is now being supported by a group called the “Campaign for On-Time Flights,” an initiative launched recently by airports union UNITE HERE. The group lays out some stark statistics: in 2014, one in four flights were delayed or cancelled. The percentage of flights delayed or cancelled increased 88 percent in 2014 compared to 2012. The Campaign for On-Time Flights has claimed that the U.S.’s ageing airports are causing the lion’s share of the delays and cancellations. The increase in the PFC – if Congress would authorize it -- will go a long way toward funding improvements, says the group.
"Every airline ticket includes money to make airports run more efficiently and help fund new terminal facilities, new runways, and other airport improvements,” said the Campaign in a press release announcing its new report. “Right now, the federal government does not let airports set the Passenger Facility Charge on their own. Instead, the federal government puts a cap on it, and that cap has not gone up since 2000. Airports are trying to get permission to increase the PFC to keep up with travel demand but airlines and their lobbyists are trying to block it."
There’s no question that many U.S. airports need a facelift. New York’s three largest airports, which were mostly constructed in the 1960s and 70s, fare badly compared to many airports in Europe or Asia. Earlier this year, British air travel consulting firm Skytrax ranked the top 10 world airports, and none from the U.S. made the list: six of the 10 best were in Asia and four were in Europe. (The top-rated airports in the U.S. that made Skytrax’s top 100 included Cincinnati’s airport at number 30, and Denver at number 33.)
Congress will likely made a decision in the fall of this year whether to allow the cap for the Passenger Facility Charge to rise when it reauthorizes legislation concerning the administration of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Groups opposing raising the PFC cap include the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and the airline industry group Airlines for America.