Airlines Question Aviation Security Fee

Perhaps the most significant part of the White House budget proposal is that it did not contain any increases in taxes and fees for airlines and their passengers for the upcoming year, the Air Transport Association of America (ATA) said in comments on the White House budget proposal submitted to Congress yesterday.  However, the ATA said the budget reiterated the 2010 proposal to increase the aviation passenger security fee by one dollar per year for three years starting in 2012.

“While we are pleased that the federal government is supporting significantly increased federal funding for Advanced Information Technology (AIT) machines and Federal Air Marshals (FAMs), we are disappointed that they again proposed increasing passenger security fees by an additional $7 billion from 2012 through 2015,” said ATA President and CEO James C. May.

The White House budget indicates that the Department of Homeland Security is requesting $734 million to support the deployment of up to 1,000 new AIT screening machines at airport checkpoints, as well as new explosive detection equipment for baggage screening. Additionally, the White House requested funding to increase the number of international flights covered by FAMs to defend against attempted attacks on aviation.

“In addition, the Administration did not propose an increase to any of the Customs, Immigration or Agriculture inspection fees, which demonstrates that our ‘do no harm’ message is resonating,” said May.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) budget request does not contain a user fee proposal for air traffic control, an idea which was footnoted in last year’s budget as a proposal that would be developed in the future. The FAA does request a 30 percent increase in its budget for NextGen programs to $1.1 billion.

“We urge Congress to make the needed investment in equipage infrastructure to ensure that the passengers and users of the air traffic control system will realize the benefits of the government’s investment,” said May. “We are pleased that the Administration’s proposed $4 billion for the National Infrastructure Innovation and Finance Fund includes eligibility for aviation, and we believe that an appropriate share of these dollars should be spent on the critical element of NextGen equipage. We commend the Department of Agriculture’s continued commitment to alternative fuels by reprogramming monies to fund a variety of other programs including support for biorefineries to utilize advanced biomass crops and research designed to create cellulosic and advanced biofuels.”