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Air ticket taxes: Airports group’s chief lambastes airlines

Los Angeles Times Staff writer

If you were disappointed by the air ticket tax holiday that wasn’t -- because so many carriers offset the drop by increasing fares over the weekend-- check out this near-rant by the chief of a group that represents airports.

“So… you might expect that airlines would pass the savings along to the passengers,” Greg Principato, president of Airports Council International - North America, posted on his blog Monday. “If you expected that you must have been living under a damn rock. Of course, the airlines won’t pass that along; they will just raise fares and pocket the difference.

“It must be executive bonus season at the airlines.

“One analyst estimates that the airlines will collect $25 million PER DAY!!!! That might cover an executive bonus or two. They certainly won’t use it to hire customer service agents.”

The federal government has been unable to collect air-ticket taxes since midnight Friday, after laws authorizing it to impose the taxes were allowed to expire by a gridlocked Congress. The taxes involved can amount to about $30 on a $300 domestic ticket, depending on the routing.

Southwest Airlines, one of the carriers that raised fares after the government stopped collecting the taxes, said it needed the money to cover rising fuel costs.

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It turns out one thing the airports’ Principato is steamed about is the airlines’ stance on the passenger facility charge, a fee that has been added to air tickets for years to help fund airport facilities. The airline industry’s Air Transport Assn. has lobbied against proposals to raise the cap on this charge, saying it “would raise travel costs, thereby harming both consumers and the travel/tourism industry.”

Principato accused the airlines of threatening to pull service from communities if Congress raised the cap on the charge, saying: “Delta is especially adept at this, and it has an intimidating impact. Even though it was complete horse poop.”

Oh, my.


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