A hike in the Aviation Passenger Security Fee - proposed by a Congressional budget deal that will be considered by the House and Senate - drew a mixed reaction from U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow. One of the questions raised is who should pay for airline security and fund the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). By one estimate the measure could cost the travel industry $1 billion.
"It is concerning that the move appears primarily aimed at getting a big chunk of Transportation Security Administration funding off the strapped federal ledger, when there is agreement across the ideological spectrum that national security is fundamentally the responsibility of the federal government," Dow said in a statement.
"User fees certainly have their placethe transportation sphere is full of them. But a proper user fee must ultimately benefit the user, and it remains to be seen whether the air passenger experience will improve under the fee measures in the congressional budget blueprint."
"Our hope is that the new funding structure will be used to perceptibly enhance TSA's functions. Examples could include broadening the enrollment effort for the successful PreCheck program, additional testing and acceleration of TSAs other risk-based screening programs, and boosting funding for redress programs. We are encouraged that the budget agreement will continue TSA staffing of exit lines from secure airport areas, the proposed elimination of which was a very flawed idea," Dow said.
"We are also heartened that leaders of both parties took a major step toward restoring stability to the overall budget process. With the recent shutdown having cost the country $152 million per day, or $2.4 billion overall, in travel-related spending alone, it is critical that we not put the recovering economy through that kind of a shock again," Dow said.
The proposed deal, announced Tuesday night by Rep. Paul Ryan ( R-Wisc.) and Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) in a budget outline that included an increase in the "9/11 Aviation Security Fee" from $2.50 per enplanement to $5.60 per flight next year, also drew fire from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). In a statement, GBTA executive director and COO Michael W. McCormick said:
“Putting aside the rhetoric, a tax by any other name is still a tax. Under the proposed budget, business travelers will share the burden of a billion dollars in new aviation security taxes."
"To aggravate the damage to business travel and U.S. businesses’ ability to conduct business effectively, the additional revenue will not be used to fund programs that benefit travelers. Enough is enough – business travelers are not bottomless piggy banks. Punishing a key driver of economic growth is the wrong approach. GBTA urges Congress to reject an increase in the aviation security tax," McCormick said.