By Eric Anderson
COLONIE — A proposed “take-off” fee levied by the federal government on passenger and cargo aircraft drew criticism Tuesday from airline and airport officials.
The Obama administration is proposing a $100 fee for each commercial aircraft, cargo plane and corporate jet each time it takes off, providing revenue to help reduce the federal budget deficit.
The fee, if levied only on passenger airliners at Albany International Airport, would raise $2.6 million a year here, said airport spokesman Doug Myers. Charging cargo flights would further boost that figure.
“Our airport and other airports in the state have seen enplanements decrease at the same time airlines are seeking to improve their finances by reducing flights and capacity,” Myers said.
He added that a $750,000 federal grant the airport received to increase air service would be more than offset by the $2.6 million in new fees airlines would face.
While a $100 fee spread out over a fully loaded Airbus would amount to less than one dollar per passenger, passengers on a nine-seat Cape Air flight could see the assessment add $10 or more to their ticket price.
It’s not clear whether Cape Air might be excluded; the measure wouldn’t apply to small piston-engine airplanes.
Still, Cape Air officials say they’re concerned.
“A $100 per flight tax on Cape Air’s operation would be a hardship given that the smaller communities we serve benefit from having higher-frequency service in nine-seat aircraft that are right-sized for those smaller markets,” said Andrew Bonney, the airline’s vice president for planning. “The issue really is that smaller communities’ link to the national air transportation system would be challenged by such a tax as proposed.”
Regional jets and smaller turboprops also might be affected disproportionately by the new fee. These smaller aircraft have grown more popular, particularly at regional airports such as Albany, where they make up 77 percent of all airline departures.
Myers said airport officials planned to reach out to the area’s congressional delegation, including Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and Congressmen Paul Tonko and Chris Gibson, to express their opposition to the measure.
Source: Albany Times Union