Right now, you spend $63 in taxes
on a typical $300 airline ticket.
Isn't that enough?
U.S. airports charge passengers a Passenger Facility Charge (PFC), a tax just for using the airport. Airports collected $3.2 billion in 2016, breaking the record set in 2015, and are estimated to set a new record in 2017. Even with all this revenue, the airports are claiming it's not enough. They're asking Congress to raise the PFC cap by $4, meaning a family of four would pay $136 in airport taxes alone on a round trip ticket.
The big-spending Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation has secretly included a $4 increase in the PFC tax. This tax increase is buried in a larger spending bill and will be voted on by the full Appropriations Committee on Thursday.
Tell your senators this tax hike won't fly with you
Myths vs. FactsMyth
The PFC cap has not been adjusted since 2000 and airports need a “modernized” PFC to meet their infrastructure needs.Fact
Airports don’t need more money; they are already collecting record levels of revenues. In 2015, airline rents and fees hit a record $10.7 billion, non-airline rents and fees, such as parking, retail, food and beverage, reached a record $9.1 billion, and PFCs reached $3.0 billion, the highest level in the history of the PFC program. Passenger taxes also fund the Airport and Airway Trust Fund (AATF), which supports airport projects around the country through the Airport Improvement Program. The AATF is stable with an uncommitted balance of nearly $7 billion – the highest level since 2001 – providing a secure funding source for airport projects. Airports have almost $12.7 billion in unrestricted cash and investments and easy access to the bond market, which are at historically low interest rates given their investment-grade ratings. There is no need to “modernize” – or rather increase -- the Airport Tax on the backs of passengers because airports have plenty of money.Myth
Passengers can easily afford a PFC increase.Fact
American consumers are overburdened with federal taxes and fees. Today, federal taxes constitute 21 percent, or $63, of a typical domestic one-stop, round-trip ticket. Every dollar increase in the PFC will cost consumers $800 million more annually in taxes. If airports get their tax increase, the sky is the limit. This is real money taken directly out of the pockets of American families.Myth
A PFC increase will fund new facilities, attracting air service and lowering airfares.Fact
Raising the PFC tax would curb the expansion of U.S. air service and air travel growth. Air travelers are price-sensitive and even the smallest increase in airline ticket costs has a negative impact on travel decisions. In December 2014, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that increasing the PFC cap would slow passenger growth and reduce revenues in the AATF. New facilities can be funded through the existing array of airport finance mechanisms. Higher PFCs will discourage travel and, moreover, will hamper airlines ability to expand air service if faced with higher costs. In fact, higher PFCs might hurt competition as increased costs will disproportionately impact low-fare carriers who serve a larger share of price-sensitive customers.Myth
Without an increase in the PFC, the AATF will dry up.Fact
The AATF already has a healthy nearly $7 billion uncommitted balance, the highest level since 2001. In addition, PFC revenues are not deposited into the AATF; they are remitted directly to the charging airports. The only effect a higher PFC would have on the AATF, as noted by the GAO, is to slow passenger growth and reduce revenues.Myth
Consumers firmly believe that an increase in the PFC is worth it because of the need for infrastructure projects like highways, roads, bridges and airports.Fact
Americans understand the PFC modernization jargon that airports are using to disguise their desire to hike the Airport Tax. In fact, a 2015 nationwide survey of 1,000 voters showed that 82 percent of respondents oppose hiking the PFC.
Airline Investment in Airport Improvement Projects
Over $100 billion of capital projects have been completed, are underway or approved at the nation’s 30 largest airports alone since 2008. Additionally, U.S. airlines invested more than $17.5 billion in 2016 to enhance the travel experience. Airport improvements include new terminals and runways, to upgraded check-in and gate experiences, as well as other amenities like charging stations. Airlines are strong partners in airport finance, and the long-standing collaboration with airports is helping make air travel more efficient and more convenient for all customers.
Click on the airports below to see recent improvements completed across the country.
The Latest News:
New Concourse A debuts in Terminal 1 at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport
Travelers are now arriving and departing through the new Concourse A inside Terminal 1 at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Concourse A — part of a $333 million modernization and expansion project nearing completion in Terminal 1 — had been projected to open June 30. The facility features five new gates, more restaurant and shopping options and a Customs and Border Protection inspection station.Read the rest
Congress, don’t treat flyers like airport ATMs
The flying public this week will receive a disturbing message from Washington: You’re about to become an ATM for the nation’s airports. In anticipation of the FAA reauthorization markup, an amendment is being proposed to remove the cap on the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC), a $4.50 tax every flyer pays on every flight. Already, flyers are taxed at nearly 21 percent on a typical domestic round-trip ticket. If this new amendment is adopted and the FAA reauthorization becomes law, airports would be free to raise the PFC as high as they wanted, until flyers’ pockets are turned inside out.Read the rest
Years of renovations at Charleston International Airport celebrated
Drop the flaps and hit the landing gear. Years of hard work were on final approach at Charleston International Airport. The airport began its facelift in late 2012, and executive director of the aviation authority Paul Campbell said the expansion and improvement project cost more than $200 million. Among improvements are 110,000 square feet of new space and five new gates, bringing the airport's gate total to 15.Read the rest
KSTP: Forum Outlines Changes Coming to MSP Airport
We’re learning more about the changes coming to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
Metropolitan Airports Commission Executive Director and CEO Jeff Hamiel discussed the improvements and expansion during a public policy forum Friday morning at the Wells Fargo Center in Minneapolis.Read the rest
USA Today: Best airport amenities of 2014, courtesy of the airlines
In a round-up earlier this month of great amenities introduced at U.S. airports during 2014, we left out the virtual library at Philadelphia International, the customer service robot introduced at Indianapolis International Airport, the snacks and other grab-n-go items in the "At Your Service" cart that airport vendor Paradies now rolls over to "gate huggers" in hold rooms at Palm Beach International Airport in Florida and California's John Wayne Airport, and the twice-weekly farmers market that pops up post-security at Portland International Airport.Read the rest
LA Times: LAX kicks off $508-million renovation of Southwest Airlines terminal
The modernization of outdated terminals at Los Angeles International Airport forged ahead Tuesday as work began on a $508-million renovation of one of the busiest passenger facilities. City leaders and airport officials broke ground at Terminal 1, home to Southwest Airlines and its subsidiary AirTran Airways. Known for traffic congestion and long lines, the 30-year old facility handled about 9.65 million travelers in 2013, the most of any LAX terminal that year.Read the rest