Poll: Are you willing to pay an increased user fee to fund U.S. airport construction and renovation projects?

A $760 billion, five-year infrastructure plan unveiled Jan. 29 by U.S. House Democrats revived a long-running dispute over whether to increase a user fee used to finance airport construction and renovation projects.

Airport operators have complained for years that the passenger facility charge (PFC) program’s federal cap of $4.50 per flight segment—which has not been adjusted by Congress since 2001—has constrained their ability to finance infrastructure upgrades, culminating in $128 billion in unmet infrastructure needs at North American airports, according to a 2019 study from the Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA). Airlines sharply disagree, arguing that raising the PFC amounts to an additional tax on passengers that will lead to a reduction in air travel demand.  

Although the plan’s details remain scarce, including the specific amount that Democrats are proposing to lift the PFC by, groups representing airport operators and U.S. carriers immediately reacted, setting the stage for a heated showdown over the proposed fee hike.

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