Travel agents and their clients face an increase in the maximum passenger facility charge (PFC) from $4.50 per segment to $7.00 per segment, according to the Air Transport Association (ATA). The increase could be authorized if Congress approves the current version of H.R. 915, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2009. The ATA has urged the Democrat-controlled Congress to reject the proposal that would impose an “additional and unwarranted” $2 billion per year tax increase on commercial passengers.
In a letter to James Oberstar, (D-MN), Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the ATA said that “the imposition of an increased PFC tax is not only unwarranted, but will also further reduce demand for travel.”
The ATA said the “current legislation does not make the needed changes to ensure acceleration of air traffic control (ATC) modernization, and hinders our ability to regain financial stability. As it is currently crafted, we respectfully oppose the bill.”
“Commercial aviation faces stark challenges given the decrease in demand resulting from the current economic insecurity. The industry suffered tremendously from last year’s skyrocketing fuel prices and carriers had to respond by reducing capacity, which means jobs lost and service to cities reduced or lost completely. Airline employment has dropped over 28 percent since 2001, marking a loss of one out of every four-industry jobs. Last year alone, mostly as a result of skyrocketing fuel prices, over 28,000 airline employee lost jobs, and thousands more job losses are expected in 2009,” the ATA said.
The ATA also called for expedite investment in and deployment of NextGen, air traffic control. “The United States is at a critical juncture right now," the ATA said. "Either we can accelerate the transformation of the ATC to allow air transportation to grow in a safe and efficient manner while achieving environmental benefits, or we can risk bringing our economy and leadership in technology to a halt by failing to address our growing aviation capacity constraints. Leadership from the committee is needed to ensure that appropriate funding and program direction is in place to accelerate the deployment of this critical program.”