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Airport industry opposing Lampson-Poe Amendment

Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Texas, and Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, have jointly offered an amendment that would strip an increase to the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) cap from the House version of the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2007, a move opposed by a coalition of airport industry groups.
“Airports get $13B a year from bonds, FAA grants, and state and local aid,” says Poe, in a statement obtained by ARN. “Passengers do not need to give any more money in taxes to airports in order to fly.”
As it stands, the House version of the bill would increase the cap from $4.50 to $7, which Lampson’s camp announced would amount to $2.2B in additional travel taxes annually. The PFC tax is “bad for consumers, bad for travelers and bad for business,” says Lampson, in a statement.
The amendment set off a flurry of opposition from groups representing airports, counties, cities, state transportation organizations and others. Led by the Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA), more than a dozen organizations signed onto a letter sent to the Speaker and Minority Leader of the U.S. House reminding them that airports aren’t required to raise their PFC cap and emphasizing the need for additional funding for airport capital projects.
In both the letter and a statement, Greg Principato, president of ACI-NA, cited flight delays and cancellations this summer in arguing for the increase. “By allowing a small increase in a locally-based user fee, airports can fund capital improvement programs that reduce delays, enhance safety, promote competition and general economic development in communities throughout the United States,” he says.
 Additionally, the organizations write, “The PFC ceiling has not been adjusted since 2000. Since then the value of a $4.50 PFC has eroded to just $2.86 due to the ravages of construction cost inflation.”
In another Reauthorization development, the House Ways and Means Committee approved legislation Tuesday rejecting the Bush administration’s call for a sweeping overhaul of aviation financing. The measure, according to Congressional Quarterly Today, would retain the current financing system and raise aviation fuel taxes from 19.3 cents per gallon to 24.1 cents per gallon with new revenue being dedicated to air traffic control modernization.
The measure is expected to be added to a larger Reauthorization bill that was to be looked at by the Rules Committee Wednesday and the House floor on Thursday.
The White House had sought to replace the current fuel and ticket tax system with per-flight charges based on distance traveled that it felt more accurately reflected usage of the air traffic control system.