Research Shows Opposition to Higher Airport Taxes

A new survey of 1,608 registered voters nationwide conducted by Whitman Insight Strategies (WINS) on behalf of trade group Airlines for America (A4A) indicates that 80 percent oppose increases to the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC), a tax that travelers pay when using U.S. airports. By law, the tax is currently capped at $4.50 per flight segment and $18 per roundtrip flight per passenger, but the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure is considering legislation that would increase the tax, possibly removing the cap entirely, Whitman said. 

Opposition to proposed PFC increases is bipartisan, with 83 percent of Democrats and 81 percent of Republican voters expressing their opposition in the poll, Whitman said. 

The poll data suggest that a major reason for strong opposition to PFC increases that benefit airports is that the public sees this issue as an unnecessary tax increase on average Americans and a mix-up of transportation infrastructure priorities, Whitman said. 

According to the survey, most Americans (65%) are satisfied with the quality of the country's airports, and 85 percent believe that airports already receive enough in taxpayer subsidies to fund improvement projects. Aside from paying the existing PFC taxes, most Americans surveyed said that in the past year they had spent money in airports on food/beverages (66%), on Wi-Fi access (62%) and on sit-down meals or drinks (53%) – all additional sources of revenue for airports.   

Comparatively, fewer than half (42%) say they are satisfied with the quality of America's roads and bridges, railways (49%) or public transportation systems (45%). And according to the poll, a majority (56%) of Americans believe that the quality and condition of the country's roads and bridges has gotten worse over the past five years. When queried specifically about transportation infrastructure priorities, 82 percent of the country would prefer to see Congress spend time and resources funding road, rail and port improvements instead of airports.

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