Travelers may see a hefty spike in passenger facility charges (PFCs) next year, if the nation's airports get their way. U.S. airports would like to see the current fee, $4.50 per segment (up to $18 round-trip) increased to $7.50 per segment, a 66 percent hike.
These fees go toward updating runways, gates, and terminal facilities, but airports say they need higher fees to keep up with the rising cost of these improvements. "All we're trying to do is keep up with inflation," says Todd Hauptli of the American Association of Airport Executives.
Oddly enough, airlines, who have largely shifted toward a fees-centric business model in recent years, oppose the move. The increased charge "Would impose an additional and unwarranted $2 billion-per-year tax increase on commercial passengers," James May, CEO of the Air Transport Association, told USA Today. "With airport revenue eclipsing record levels ... the imposition of an increased PFC tax is not only unwarranted, but will also further reduce demand for travel."
If you laughed when you read that, you're not alone. Airlines have no problem imposing an additional $10-billion-per-year fee increase on commercial passengers, so long as they collect the money. But they're up in arms over the airports' own proposed fee hike? Give me a break.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Bill currently in the House of Representatives calls for a $7 PFC, while the Senate version holds the fee at $4.50. Congress is currently busy with health care, so these bills may sit for a while.
Does your local airport need some updating? Have you traveled through an airport that appears woefully ramshackle? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.