A bill proposed by Representative John Mica will reduce airline carry-on fees to a maximum of $4.50, compared to current averages of $25 per extra bag.
The legislation, aimed squarely at US airline carriers and the FAA, matches the current passenger facility charge (PFC) assessed on an airline flight.
Mica, a Florida Republican whose district runs north of Orlando, has been working to increase funding for airports. In May, he released a report that argued for greater investment to increase airport capacity in runways and terminals and warning of a “meltdown” at major airports during peak travel periods.
Currently, facility charges can total $18 on a round-trip flight, with two $4.50 PFCs allowed on a one-way trip or four for a round-trip. In 2013, those charged added up to $2.8 billion.
“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” Mica, a former chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said Wednesday in a press release.
Mica is a big supporter of airline reform, having recently sponsored legislation to move the U.S. air traffic control system from the FAA to a new, private corporation similar to a model used in Europe, Canada, and other developed nations.
Mica notes that airline fees for checked bags and seat assignments are not subject to taxes, which means the fees are not contributing to the federal Airport and Airway Trust Fund.
The bill has been called a “misguided attempted” by the Airlines for America trade group. Airlines note that more than $70 billion in capital projects have been approved at the 30 largest U.S. airports since 2008 and that airports can issue investment-grade bonds to fund capital projects, without hurting demand for air travel with the PFC.
The Government Accountability Office recently concluded that a higher PFC could reduce revenue for the Airport and Airway Trust Fund by about 1 percent through 2024 due to lower traffic. That fund received $12.9 billion in 2013.
The U.S. Travel Association is urging Congress to allow airports to set their own user fees on passengers with a maximum charge of $8.50, and then adjusted for inflation.