Two leaders on transportation issues in the U.S. House of Representatives – Transportation & Infrastructure Committee – member Thomas Massie (R-KY) and House Ways and Means Committee member Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) – have introduced a bipartisan bill to remove the federal cap on the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC). Eliminating the $4.50 federal cap on this local user fee would allow local airports to set PFC rates to match their own unique infrastructure needs.
In exchange for an unlimited PFC, the Blumenauer-Massie bill (H.R. 3791) proposes to cut Airport Improvement Program funding by $400 million annually and eliminate entitlements for large hub airports. Under current law, large and medium hubs already turn back 75 percent of their entitlements for imposing a $4 or $4.50 PFC.
Airports Council International – North America worked with Reps. Massie and Blumenauer on this bill to “create an opportunity for the airport industry to demonstrate real progress in advancing the PFC issue in the House,” the trade group said, adding that attention will now turn to gathering additional cosponsors for this bill in the House.
“ACI-NA thanks Representatives Massie and Blumenauer for introducing legislation that will revolutionize the way airports do business,” says Kevin Burke, CEO of ACI-NA. “The ‘Investing in America: Rebuilding America’s Airport Infrastructure Act’ will remove the outdated and burdensome federal cap on local airport user fees, allowing each airport to determine its own user-fee rate based on its own unique infrastructure needs.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.”
The American Association of Airport Executives notes that the bill introduced July 18 is similar to a bill introduced in 2017 by Massie and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), who was then the ranking member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Blumenauer was one of 13 lawmakers who cosponsored that legislation.
After becoming Chairman of the Transportation Committee, DeFazio has led the charge for a broad infrastructure bill. But prospects for a bipartisan agreement evaporated in May after talks between Congressional Democrats and the White House imploded. AAAE says DeFazio has suggested that he may still move ahead with legislation to adjust the PFC cap, “but he seems to be gravitating toward a more modest approach that may call for raising the PFC cap to a certain amount and possibly adjusting it for inflation instead of eliminating the cap all together.”