Commercial airline passengers can breathe a sigh of relief as a potential threat to their wallets has been averted. The House of Representatives recently passed the Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act. A bipartisan move to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration. However, there was a dangerous amendment proposed by Rep. Thomas Massie, which would have increased the passenger facility charge. It is a fee imposed by airports on air travelers.

If approved, this amendment would have burdened everyday Americans with higher air travel costs, stifled competition in the industry and hit small businesses hard by raising their travel expenses. The amendment did not make it into the bill.

What is a Passenger Facility Charge?

The passenger facility charge is a fee imposed on airline passengers at commercial airports controlled by state and local governments, affecting nearly all major airports. Currently capped at $4.50 per passenger, it is included in the ticket price. One of many taxes and fees tacked onto air travel costs. These taxes and fees can make up over 20 percent of a domestic airline ticket.

Despite arguments in favor of raising the passenger facility charge cap to keep up with inflation and fund airport improvement projects, the revenue per passenger from passenger facility charge fees outpaced inflation since 2000. A passenger facility charge increase could slow passenger growth and reduce funds available to airports, which is counterproductive to its supposed purpose.

Congress recently provided a substantial $25 billion investment in taxpayer money for airport improvements through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. With this funding in place, there is no justification for deeper government involvement in travelers’ pockets.

Could Raising It Bring Competition?

Some advocates of raising the passenger facility charge cap suggest it could promote competition among airlines. However, this would come at the cost of higher ticket prices, harming smaller airlines that rely on low-cost airfares to attract customers.

The notion that a passenger facility charge cap increase would spur competition among airports is also dismissed as “nonsense” by critics. The charge is then collected by airlines and returned to the airports. This is making it difficult for consumers to hold airports accountable for prices imposed.

Negative Effects of Raising These Fees

Beyond the impact on travelers and airlines, a passenger facility charge cap increase would have negative consequences for the broader economy. Small businesses, already grappling with inflation, taxes, and regulatory burdens, do not need additional costs hindering their operations and suppressing competition.

Thankfully, the Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act will not entertain a charge cap increase. The dangers of such a policy are evident. It’s crucial to put this debate to rest and prevent any future attempts to reignite it.