Last updated: 03:30 PM ET, Wed March 25 2015

USTA: Most Travelers Would Pay PFC Increase

Airlines & Airports | U.S. Travel Association | Rich Thomaselli | March 25, 2015

USTA: Most Travelers Would Pay PFC Increase

Six in ten travelers say they would pay a $4 increase in the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) in order to improve airport infrastructure and efficiencies, according to a new survey conducted by the U.S. Travel Association.

The proposed increase in the PFC is being opposed by airlines who are adamant about adding yet another fee to airline tickets; the USTA is an advocate for the increase.

In the same survey, more than seven in ten travelers said they felt that current air travel options are inadequate. 

“Because travel consumers are very astute, we’re not at all surprised to learn that they are willing to pay for something that provides them with a tangible benefit,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “Air passengers aren’t thrilled about ancillary fees, which disappear into the airlines’ pockets, or federal taxes, which disappear into Washington’s pockets. But if you show them a local user fee that is tightly structured to invest in our outdated and overburdened infrastructure, they understand the difference and strongly support it.”

For the survey, a total of 1,015 interviews were completed during the period March 17-18, 2015. The sample consisted of travelers that have taken at least one air trip in the past 12 months and are 18 years old or older. The survey has a margin of error of +/- three percent with 95 percent confidence level for statistical testing. Data is weighted to Census 2010 by gender, age and income. 

The USTA has been espousing airport infrastructure improvements for years, although the issue has become more pronounced in the last year or so, especially after Vice President Joe Biden compared New York’s LaGuardia Airport to a third-world country.

“Fortuitously, there is an existing funding mechanism for fixing our beleaguered airports that speaks perfectly to flyers’ preferences—the Passenger Facility Charge [PFC], a local user fee paid only by users of specific airports,” Dow said. “The trouble is, it hasn’t been indexed for inflation in a decade and a half, while our air travel infrastructure falls further behind the rest of the world. It’s time for airlines, cities, Washington politicians and the traveling public to recognize that the PFC is the answer to a host of air travel problems, and summon the will to update it for the 21st century.”

Dow said part of the problem is a lack of competition among airlines, noting that just a handful of U.S. airlines now carry 85 percent of U.S. passenger traffic.

“Looking at the Big Three airlines’ push to break Open Skies agreements, coupled with their vehement opposition to infrastructure investments through the PFC, it is difficult to reach any conclusion other than they are deathly allergic to competition,” he said. 

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