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Massie Introduces Legislation to Remove Caps on Airport Passenger Facility Charges

Congressman Thomas Massie announced this week his introduction of H.R. 3791, the Investing in America: Rebuilding America's Airport Infrastructure Act.

The Northern Kentucky Republican introduced the legislation with Oregon Democratic Congressman Earl Blumenauer.

It would remove the federal cap on the passenger facility charge (PFC), which the lawmakers argue would give airports more flexibility and local control to finance major construction projects.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the PFC is allowed to be as high as $4.50 for every eligible passenger at commercial airports controlled by public agencies, such as the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), which is controlled by the Kenton County Airport Board.

The PFCs are capped at $4.50 per flight segment with a maximum of two charged on a one-way trip or four on a round trip, for a maximum of $18 total, according to the FAA. Airports use the funds to pay for FAA-approved projects that enhance safety, security, or capacity, or reduce noise, or increase air carrier competition.

“Removing the PFC cap and allowing airports to collect more of their own revenue from users reduces airports’ dependency on federal grants and taxes,” Massie said. “This bill would let airports – not the federal government – decide what to charge customers who use their facilities so they can increase investments to improve passenger experience.”

“Ask any member of the traveling public and they will agree that our nation’s airports need a serious upgrade,” said Blumenauer. “From delays due to inadequate gate capacity to long security lines and inefficient facilities, airports need to be able to prioritize their local needs and update their facilities for the 21st century.”

CVG CEO Candace McGraw announced her support for the legislation in an op-ed published at The River City News. "My airport colleagues and I thank Congressman Massie for his thoughtful legislation to help airports raise more money for capital projects that will modernize outdated terminal facilities, increase competition, and create new jobs at our airports," McGraw wrote in the op-ed.

The legislation received support from the Reason Foundation, a Libertarian think-tank based in Los Angeles.

“The PFC is a local user fee that helps airports expand and modernize their terminals, enabling more airlines to offer services there. Increased competition leads to lower air fares, which is a major benefit of locally funded airport expansion,” said Robert Poole, director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation.

The legislation was also applauded by Airports Council International - North America, which released the following statement: “ACI-NA thanks Representatives Massie and Blumenauer for introducing legislation that will revolutionize the way airports do business. The ‘Investing in America: Rebuilding America’s Airport Infrastructure Act’ will remove the outdated and burdensome federal cap on local airport user fees, allowing each airport to determine its own user-fee rate based on its own unique infrastructure needs. This pro-market approach will give all airports the flexibility they need to address the nearly $130 billion worth of infrastructure needs they face over the next five years to increase capacity, enhance security, promote competition among the airlines, and improve the overall passenger experience.”

FreedomWorks, Citizens Against Government Waste, Competitive Enterprise Institute, and Taxpayers Protection Alliance also support this legislation.

Rep. Massie has been a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure since he came to Congress in 2012. Rep. Earl Blumenauer served on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure from the time he was elected to Congress in 1996 until 2007. He currently sits as a senior member on the House Committee on Ways and Means.

-Staff report