The airlines have been under-paying their airport security bill to the tune of $219 million according to the TSA. From the Baltimore Sun:
Southwest owes the most, $54 million, followed by AMR Corp.’s American at $40 million and Delta Air Lines Inc. at $32 million, said Ellen Howe, a Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman. The carriers will face penalties if they don’t pay or arrange to do so in 30 days, she said.
US Airways Group Inc. owes $18 million; UAL Corp.’s United Airlines, $15 million; Continental Airlines Inc., $14 million; Northwest Airlines Corp., $9 million; and America West Airlines, now part of US Airways, $8 million, Howe said
According to the airlines, the fees are excessive, and they’re refusing to pay them. It all stems from the way the TSA’s budget is calculated. The airlines are responsible for paying fees based on an estimation of what it cost them to run airport security in 2000. The airlines say it cost $300 million, the TSA says the real figure is closer to $750 million.
“We believe it is time for the TSA to develop a new system for allocating these costs, which is based on 2000 market shares,” said Tim Wagner, a spokesman for American, the world’s largest airline. “This old system is fundamentally unfair.”
“We are reviewing our legal options,” said Pete Scales, a United spokesman.
Hey, someone’s got to pay for all those little gray tubs. —MEGHANN MARCO