Passengers are rightly upset that the airlines quickly raised their fares in order to pocket more than $25 million a day in federal aviation taxes that cannot be collected because Congress has not extended the FAA reauthorization bill. But passengers should also be upset that we are draining the aviation system’s bank account.
This is the great double whammy rip-off that Congress has allowed by not acting. Not only are the airlines keeping money that should be flowing into the Airport and Airways Trust Fund, but they are also using air traffic control services without paying the bill. Airlines are literally getting a free ride! The big losers here are passengers, airports, communities and of course the more than 4,000 FAA employees who are out of work through no fault of their own.
Under normal circumstances- and this is anything but normal -every time a passenger buys a ticket, he or she contributes to keeping the runways maintained, as well as the air traffic controllers, their equipment and the buildings in which they work. Ticket taxes provide the majority of the money in the Trust Fund, which also helps pay for FAA personnel who conduct airport and airlines inspections to maintain the safest aviation system in the world.
Right now we are draining the Trust Fund piggy bank in order to maintain the ‘essential services’ that allow the airlines to continue to fly while losing $200 million a week that we will never get back. We can’t maintain the safest aviation system in the world this way.
ACI-NA has heard from airports all over the country about important safety projects that have stopped because FAA does not have the legal authority to pay for airfield maintenance, snow removal equipment and taxiway improvements. This is money that passengers paid, through the ticket tax, for airport safety and now that money is being used to subsidize airline revenues, allowing the carriers fatten up their profits. This can’t continue! Congress needs to act now and extend FAA reauthorization.