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AIRLINE PASSENGERS ARE CONCERNED BY NEW 'QUIET TAXES' BEING PROPOSED LOCALLY BY AIRPORTS AND AIRLINES

AIRLINE PASSENGERS ARE CONCERNED BY NEW 'QUIET TAXES' BEING PROPOSED
 LOCALLY BY AIRPORTS AND AIRLINES
 WASHINGTON, Jan. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Congress should amend the 1990 statute authorizing Passenger Facility Charges (PFCs) to protect passengers from potential abuses by the aviation industry, a spokesman for the Airline Passengers Association of North America (APANA) said today. PFCs are new, locally imposed $3 charges on airline passengers that can cost up to $12 for a round trip flight.
 Richard E. Livingston, APANA's chief executive officer, speaking about Passenger Facility Charges before the Transportation Research Board, stated that although APANA has not heard very much about PFCs from its members so far, he anticipates that passenger reactions will be "very evident" once nationwide collection of PFCs begins June 1 of this year.
 The Passenger Facility Charge program was enacted by Congress in the fall of 1990, according to Livingston, "as part of an inside-the- Washington-Beltway aviation industry compromise package." According to APANA, that package fails to protect the interests of passengers in three ways: first, it provides no real opportunity for airline passengers to participate in the local process by which PFCs are imposed -- providing instead a Federal Register Public Comment Notice that Livingston describes as a "federal joke"; second, it allows PFC revenues extracted from airline passengers to be spent on projects that have no direct benefit to the passengers paying for them; and third, it allows airports to pile up PFC revenues for five years before spending any of that money for project construction.
 Concerning the lack of public involvement in the PFC process, Livingston described PFCs as "quiet taxes ... being put in place airport-by-airport in private meetings with airlines but without any public participation from the passengers who will have to pay them." He added: "Local airport authorities are ... doing their very best to pick the 'best' projects to finance with their new PFC authority. They're simply doing it in a vacuum without any real participation from the people -- our airline passenger members -- who will have to pay those PFCs for those projects. Congress, not the local airport authorities or the airlines, is to be faulted for enacting a new taxing mechanism -- however well intentioned -- that doesn't involve the taxpaying public."
 If the PFC process were changed by Congress to provide a real opportunity for public involvement in project selection, and to ensure that "projects will benefit passengers and will be in place within a reasonable time," APANA would be supportive of PFCs, Livingston concluded. PFCs, unlike the current 10 percent federal domestic air passenger ticket tax, at least give some "assurance that the passengers' money will eventually be used to buy the promised projects."
 APANA is a membership organization supported by more than 110,000 frequent business flyers. Its members primarily are professional people who regularly and almost exclusively use air transportation for business and leisure travel. Collectively, they purchase more than 4 million airline tickets annually and on average make about 50 flights per year on commercial aircraft. They are a significant part of the 11 percent of air travelers who account for almost half of annual airline revenues and who will pay a substantial share of all PFCs.
 -0- 1/14/91
 /NOTE: A copy of APANA's prepared remarks is available./
 /CONTACT: Richard Livingston of Airline Passengers Association of North America, 703-379-1152/ CO: Airline Passengers Association of North America ST: District of Columbia IN: AIR SU:


SB-TW -- DC006 -- 9444 01/14/92 09:57 EST
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Date:Jan 14, 1992
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