Senate Commerce Committee leaders on Thursday unveiled a bipartisan four-year FAA reauthorization bill that would maintain the outdated federal cap on Passenger Facility Charges at $4.50 and eventually increase Airport Improvement Program funding to $3.75 billion annually. The Senate bill would also keep the FAA in charge of air traffic control functions, setting up a conflict with House lawmakers who are continuing the push for Air Traffic Control corporatization.
Airports have been pressing Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.), Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), and other committee members to take action on the PFC front. AAAE, ACI-NA, the U.S. Travel Association, and airports around the country have been urging Congress to completely eliminate the federal cap as a way to help airports finance critical infrastructure projects with local revenue.
This year, AAAE and ACI-NA also teamed up with AOPA on a two-part plan to help general aviation and commercial service airports meet their infrastructure needs. The three organizations urged lawmakers to help non-primary airports struggling to pay for projects with limited AIP entitlements and to assist airports of all sizes by eliminating the PFC cap.
Committee leaders were reportedly considering airport calls for an unlimited PFC and a separate proposal to raise the PFC cap for originating passengers – a proposal that Ranking Member Nelson came close to getting in the base FAA bill last year. That narrow option would address concerns raised by some rural committee members that their constituents often pay twice as much in PFCs as passengers with direct flights.
AAAE Federal Affairs members can access a detailed summary of the Senate’s FAA bill here.