Hiking Airline Fees to Close Budget Deficit

Posted: Jul 24, 2011 3:26 PM

Hitting the private sector to pay for the public. As debt talks continue on Capitol Hill, airlines are warning passengers Congress may significantly increase air travel fees as a way to help close the deficit.

The airline industry's Air Transport Association is raising alarm about what they claim is a proposal to double the $2.50-per-flight passenger security fee as well as impose a new departure fee on airlines.

There have been a host of possible plans floated on Capitol Hill in recent weeks.

TA spokesman Steve Lott said it was still being discussed over the weekend.

The group is working "vigorously" to try and stop it, he said.

"The passenger is going to take a hit if this tax increase goes through, and it'll make travel more expensive," Lott told FoxNews.com. "Unfortunately, a lot of politicians see airlines and their passengers as a cash cow."

The current $2.50 fee was imposed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and was meant to help fund the Department of Homeland Security's operations. But Lott expressed concern that a hike would amount to a tax on passengers solely for the purpose of deficit reduction.

According to the ATA, $15 billion of that would come from increasing the security fee to $5. Another $3 billion would come from a proposal to impose a $25-per-flight departure charge on commercial and general aviation flights, according to the ATA. That fee would be charged to the airlines directly.

And the brains behind the idea? Joe Biden.

The idea apparently was hatched during the now-defunct talks led by Vice President Biden.