Airports Propose Increasing Facility Fees To Pay For Infrastructure Improvements

With airlines introducing new fees for just about everything from reserved seats, carry on bags and even water, it appears that the actual airports are looking to get a piece of the action with a proposed increase to the passenger facility fee.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the proposed fee increase – from $4.50 to $8.50 per leg of the trip – would be used to finance construction projects at airports.

The possible increase, which has continuously been proposed by airports since 2007, is slated for debate by Congress as part of policy legislation for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Facility fees last increased to $4.50 in 2000. Proponents of the new fee say that 15 years has been too long for the stagnant fee when inflation and construction costs are considered.

A recent report from two airport industry groups say that current buildings around the country need nearly $75 billion in construction upgrades.

Airlines and their trade association Airlines for America tell the Inquirer they oppose the fee because it could discourage air travel for consumers.

The groups say that airports have several other options to generate the funds needed for improvements to infrastructure, such as airline rentals, concessions and rental-car operators.

As for the report on needed facility updates, Airlines for America contends that most of those have already been made.

“Since 2008, more than $70 billion in capital improvement projects have been completed, are underway, or have been approved by U.S. airlines and their airport partners at the country’s largest 30 airports,” the group tells the Inquirer.

Still, the airports assert that the $8 total increase in fees pales in comparison to the fees charged by airlines for checked bags and itinerary changes which can range from $20 to more than $200.

“This is not a tax,” Philadelphia International Airport CEO Mark Gale tells the Inquirer. “This does not go off to the federal government. This comes to the airports, and has to be spent on projects approved by the FAA.”

Also fighting the proposed increase is passenger rights group, FlyersRights.org – which called for a cap to airline change fees for international flights last month – says consumers shouldn’t have to pay more for infrastructure needs.

“Air travel costs are being inflated by 50 percent or more by unnecessary taxes and airline- [and] airport-imposed fees and charges,” Paul Hudson, president of FlyersRights, tells the Inquirer. “They should be giving back to the traveling public, not seeking to take more.”

Airports look to nearly double ‘facility fee’ [The Philadelphia Inquirer]