With Memorial Day now in the rear view mirror, summer has unofficially kicked off which means Americans will increasingly travel on vacation. But a Florida congressman with a strong background on transportation and aviation issues released a report last week warning about “airport meltdowns” in the months to come.
Last week, U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., released "U.S. Airports in Crisis," a report which finds that airlines’ increased use of fees for baggage and other services, none of which go into the the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, is hurting airports. The Florida congressman noted that airports
are hampered by the local passenger facility charge which has been capped at $4.50 per passenger since 2000 and travelers would pay the price.
“When weather and air traffic control delays occur, and at peak travel periods through 2015, airline passengers should expect airport meltdowns,” Mica said last week when he released the report. “Crowded airport aprons, terminals and runways are jammed with planes and passengers as revenues for improvements have been drained."
Mica’s report drew the following conclusions:
1. Major U.S. airports have significant capacity needs and face a meltdown during peak travel periods and air traffic control and weather delays.
2. Expect more delays, aircraft ground congestion and safety and security challenges at major U.S. airports.
3. Airport apron and terminal capacity becomes dangerously crowded during weather, air traffic control and high traffic periods.
4. Major U.S. airports lag behind global competition.
5. In 2013, 72 percebt of passenger boardings occurred at the largest 30 U.S. hub airports.
6. Over the past decade, airlines have increased baggage fees, ticket processing fees and other service charges, while the local Passenger Facility Charge (PFC), dedicated to improving airport terminals and facilities, remains locked at 2000 levels.
7. As of April 2015, 349 airports have reached their maximum allowable PFC.
To address these matters, Mica said he planned to introduce legislation in the upcoming months as Congress grapples with issues pertaining to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) over the summer.
First elected to Congress in 1992, Mica led Republicans on the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee before serving as chair in 2011 and 2012, and then facing term limits on his leadership post. Mica remains a member of the committee and currently chairs the U.S. House Transportation and Public Assets Subcommittee. The Florida Republican also chaired the U.S. House Aviation Subcommittee.
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