National Consumers League

NCL letter to Congress: Raising the Passenger Facility Charge will hurt travelers and families

May 10, 2019

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

The Honorable Peter DeFazio
Chairman
House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
U.S. House of Representatives
2165 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Maria Cantwell
Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
511 Hart Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20500

The Honorable Rick Larsen
Chairman
House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Subcommittee on Aviation
U.S. House of Representatives
1529 Longworth House Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Kyrsten Sinema
Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Subcommittee on Aviation and Space
825B Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Re: Raising the Passenger Facility Charge Will Hurt Travelers and Families

Dear Senator Cantwell, Congressman DeFazio, Congressman Larsen, and Senator Sinema,

On behalf of the National Consumers League, America’s pioneering consumer and worker advocacy organization, I am writing today to share our concerns about the proposal to increase the Passenger Facility Charge (“PFC”) that is under consideration by your committees. There is undoubtedly a need to invest in updating America’s airport infrastructure. However, massive infrastructure projects are already underway and even more are planned, all financed with existing funding sources. Therefore, we disagree that new funds should be generated by raising fees yet again on consumers.

As you know, the PFC is currently capped at $4.50. Some airport executives have proposed increasing the cap to $8.50 per segment and indexing the PFC to inflation.[1] While this may seem like a marginal increase on its face, this fee hike could add up to $64 more for a family of four to travel when layovers are factored in.[2] This would disproportionately burden budget-conscious consumers and families buying less expensive tickets, who already face an array of taxes and ancillary fees. Moreover, the increase will unfairly burden travelers who do not reside near hub airports and typically have to fly multiple segments to reach their destinations.

Since 2009, $165 billion in infrastructure projects have been funded at the current PFC cap level. In 2017, U.S. airports collected a record $30 billion of revenue—growing 47% on a per passenger basis since 2000, outpacing inflation. As anyone traveling through our nation’s airports can attest, there is no shortage of opportunities for airports to obtain revenue; rents paid by gift shops, restaurants, bars, hotels, rental car and parking facilities to name only a few.  Airports should utilize the funds they already have before asking Congress to burden American families and consumers with yet another tax.

Passengers are already paying enough to fly. I encourage you to consider those who will ultimately pay the price for the proposed PFC increase – families, especially rural families, who already pay their fair share in taxes and fees when traveling. Until a persuasive case can be made for additional fees to be passed on to the flying public, we urge you to reject an increase in the PFC cap.

Sincerely,

John Breyault
Vice President, Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud
National Consumers League
Phone: (202) 207-2819
Email: johnb@nclnet.org

[1] Silk, Robert. “PFC redux: Airport and airline lobbyists resume the fight,” Travel Weekly. March 26, 2019. Online: https://www.travelweekly.com/Travel-News/Airline-News/PFC-redux

[2] Airlines for American. “A4A Urges Senators to Reject Massive Secret Tax Hike in Unreleased THUD Appropriations Bill,” Press release. July 25, 2017. Online: https://www.marketwatch.com/press-release/a4a-urges-senators-to-reject-massive-secret-tax-hike-in-unreleased-thud-appropriations-bill-2017-07-25

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.