Wow. That is an impressive number. Wonder what the Southwest Airline Bag Fee cops (those commercials are a riot, by the way!) think about that? Of course, Southwest ranks second in fees collected; they don’t have bag fees but do have other fees.
$2.1 billion. Man. I keep thinking about the great line from the Southwest anti-bag fee commercial (“$120 in fees roundtrip. 150 people on the plane. That’s almost $20,000, street value”).
I have often said that if airlines want to charge for their product in this way that’s their right. But I have also said that the fact that most of these fees are not subject to the ticket tax that funds the trust fund that supports air traffic control and infrastructure development is a serious policy issue that must be addressed (either we change the way the trust fund is supported or we change the way such fees are treated). As must the fact that more people carrying bags onto planes to avoid the fees means longer backups at security.
Let’s see, $2.1 billion (in one quarter) times four equals $8.4 billion. Hmmm. Almost exactly equal to what the International Air Transport Association predicts the global airline industry will make in profit this year. Hmmm. (No word yet on what airline executive bonuses will be this year).
And the people who have compiled this record have the temerity to oppose U.S. airports from increasing the passenger facility charge user fee by a measly $2.50! (And let’s not even get into the fact that the PFC helps support airline bottom lines by avoiding having to increase a carrier’s rate base. And why is the federal government so involved in what airports can charge as a user fee anyway????)
I have been told by multiple folks around town that lobbyists who work for certain airlines are bragging openly that they are on the verge of killing the FAA reauthorization bill. I’ve been around here a long time. The airlines are the only industry I have EVER encountered that so consistently argue against what are their true long term interests. And this is one of those times. And some of them are BRAGGING about it!!
But as long as they can collect $2.1 billion every quarter, who cares? Who needs runways, taxiways and terminals? Who needs a modern air traffic control system? Can’t collect ancillary fees off those things!