Airlines protest fee increase plan
The airline industry is protesting the Obama administration's plan to increase fees and taxes on commercial passengers and corporate jets to help battle the nation's debt crisis.
Two of the world's largest airline trade groups say the proposed fees and taxes would hurt the economy and force the industry to eliminate jobs.
To help cut the nation's debt, the Obama administration has suggested doubling the aviation security fee imposed in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Each passenger is now charged $2.50 for each leg of a trip, with a maximum of $5 for a one-way trip. Under the proposal, the charge would be replaced with a standard $5 per trip fee, with annual increase of 50 cents from 2013 to 2017.
The fee could collect an additional $8.8 billion over five years and $24.9 billion over 10 years.
The administration also wants to raise a per-flight fee from $60 to $100 for all corporate planes that fly in controlled airspace, generating an estimated $11 billion over 10 years.
The Air Transport Assn., the trade group for the nation's largest airlines, said the industry already pays more than its share of taxes.
"We oppose any new taxes on airlines or their passengers," said ATA President Nicholas E. Calio.
The International Air Transport Assn., the trade group for the world's airlines, also issued a statement Tuesday, objecting to the proposed new fees.
“Airlines and their passengers are being asked to pay for national security, although it clearly is a responsibility of government,” said IATA Director General Tony Tyler.
When it comes to adding new fees on passengers, however, the nation's airlines have not been reluctant to act.
The nation's largest airlines collected $1.38 billion for charging passengers to check baggage and change reservations in the first three months of the year, a 4% increase over the same period in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
-- Hugo Martin
Photo: Airplanes landing and departing at Los Angeles International Airport. Credit: Los Angeles Times