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Fee Alert: Airport Fees Set to Rise

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Get ready to pay a little more when you purchase an airline ticket. The new 2012 budget, unveiled yesterday, calls for an increase in “passenger facility charges” (PFC), from $4.50 per segment to $7. The increase is designed to offset a $1.1 billion reduction in federal grants for airport construction projects. Both the fee increase and grant reduction are targeted at medium and large airports.

The goal of this reduction, which is spelled out in more detail here, is to “[focus] the traditional Federal grants to support smaller commercial and general aviation airports that do not have access to additional revenue or other outside sources of capital. At the same time, the Budget would allow larger airports to increase non-Federal passenger facility charges.” Which is to say, large airports with hundreds of thousands or millions of travelers passing through each year can figure things out for themselves.

Implementation of the new fee, however, is far from a sure thing. According to the Associated Press, a $7 PFC was included in last year’s House version of the FAA Reauthorization Act. The Senate version, however, maintained the $4.50 PFC. That bill died, but new legislation being drawn up in the house keeps the $4.50 PFC intact.

Airlines are also opposed to the fee hike, which they say will add significant costs to the average ticket and could cut into their business. (Not that airlines have any qualms about adding their own fees.) The increase would tack $40 onto the cost a round-trip flight, one stop each way, for a family of four.

Readers, would an increase in the PFC make you think twice about booking?

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