Travel Industry Leaders Urge Congress to Cut Taxes on Flyers
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One month after presenting a comprehensive overhaul plan to Congress, the U.S. Travel Association has joined forces with more than 100 major travel-related companies and organizations in urging government officials to include several key provisions in the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill.
In identical letters issued to both House and Senate transportation leaders, the USTA and others, including a handful of state tourism offices, warned that "a core set of problems" threatens the "future growth and competitiveness of air travel in America."
Travel leaders pointed out that "air travel is forecast to grow from 776 million to 926 million enplanements per year" over the next decade, potentially adding an "additional $224 billion in annual travel spending and supporting three quarters of a million new American jobs."
The letter highlights several challenges that stand in the way of that projected growth, including aging airport infrastructure, growing congestion, declining airline competition and the increased travel frustrations as a result of the aforementioned problems.
"Complaining about air travel is basically a national pastime at the moment, and every single one of flyers' major gripes can be boiled down to infrastructure woes and a lack of airline competition," said USTA president and CEO Roger Dow in a statement. "These problems are not just about the comfort and convenience of travelers, they're about the ability of travel to continue being a main engine of economic and job growth for the country."
In the letter to Congress, the group stated that, in order "to addres these challenges, the FAA reauthorization bill must include provisions that accelerate airport modernization, stabilize funding for air traffic control operations and NextGen development, and enhance competition among commercial airlines."
The group recommended implementing local user fees to speed up airport modernization and expansion, utilizing user fees rather than federal aviation taxes to pay for air traffic control services and protecting and expanding Open Skies Agreements in order to boost airline competition.
By cutting aviation taxes in favor of user fees for air traffic control services, the group estimates flyers could save as much as $25.50 on the average cost of a ticket.
"Congress has both the tools within reach to fix the system and the opportunity to use them with the upcoming FAA reauthorization," added Dow. "Our letter marshals some of the most influential voices out there to urge political leaders not to squander this moment."
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