Travel Industry Lobbies Congress on Air Travel Issues
This fall, Congress is set to consider a bill reauthorizing funding for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In advance of that, 117 travel-related companies and organizations have sent a leader to transportation leaders in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, urging them to address "a core set of problems" threatening "the future growth and competitiveness of air travel in America," the U.S. Travel Association reported last week.
Among the problems that Congressional leaders were asked to address: aging airport infrastructure, growing congestion, declining airline competition, and passenger frustrations.
"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 said in its letter, signatories of which included Hilton Worldwide, Marriott International, MGM Resorts International, the National Restaurant Association, Universal Parks & Resorts, 10 state tourism offices, and a host of regional travel entities.
Specifically, the letter called for the preservation of Open Skies agreements and endorsed an infrastructure financing plan presented by the U.S. Travel Association last month, calling for an increase in the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC), or airport tax, that funds airport improvements. Currently $4.50 per airline ticket, airports under the proposed plan would have the option to increase the PFC to $8.50 per airline ticket. To offset the PFC adjustment, the plan calls for the elimination of five passenger aviation taxes, the net effect of which would be lower ticket prices, more carriers, and increased competition, according to U.S. Travel.
"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," U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow (pictured) said 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. Congress has both the tools within reach to fix the system and the opportunity to use them with the upcoming FAA reauthorization. Our letter marshals some of the most influential voices out there to urge political leaders not to squander this moment."