Arkansas Groups Join Call To Fix Aviation Infrastructure, Cut Taxes On Flyers

by Kerri Jackson Case ([email protected]) 138 views 

The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism and the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau were among 117 major travel-related companies and organizations urging congressional leaders to cut taxes on air travelers and move to a user-fee model for infrastructure financing as part of the forthcoming Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization.

The group, led by the U.S. Travel Association, sent a letter to key U.S. House and Senate transportation leaders noting a “core set of problems that must be addressed.” They include: aging airport infrastructure, growing congestion, declining airline competition and higher travel frustration.

The letter endorsed a proposal offered last month by the U.S. Travel Association to reform the financing model for maintaining and upgrading the country’s air travel infrastructure.

That policy package would cut numerous federal ticket taxes that could save flyers up to $25.50 on the average cost of a ticket, move to a user fee model for air traffic control, and adjust the cap on the Passenger Facility Charge from $4.50 to $8.50 to help keep revenues local for the purpose of traveler-friendly infrastructure fixes.

Shane Carter with Clinton National Airport said he could not speak to the entirety of the U.S. Travel Association’s proposal, but that local user fees are of particular interest to the airport.

“The community relies on the airport’s ability to be an economic generator with the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) being an essential source of funding that creates jobs while improving infrastructure,” Carter said. “Often times, the PFC is misrepresented as a tax; however, it is a user fee. This locally imposed charge, paid by passengers and used for improvement projects at airports, has lost nearly 50% of its value since a $4.50 cap was imposed in 2000. At a minimum, we believe that the PFC should be indexed to inflation. This modernization will help us keep up with today’s cost of construction.”

According to the letter, the net effect of the proposal would be an aviation marketplace with more carriers and therefore more competition.

“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 U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow in a press release. “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.”