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FAA APPROVES FIRST AIRPORT TO COLLECT PASSENGER FEES

 FAA APPROVES FIRST AIRPORT TO COLLECT PASSENGER FEES
 WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- Savannah (Ga.) International


Airport is the first airport in the nation to receive authority to expand its capacity, promote competition and create local jobs using funds generated by the Savannah Airport Commission, Acting Secretary of Transportation James Busey announced today.
 The Savannah Airport Commission, with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval, will charge departing passengers a $3 fee starting July 1. It expects to raise an estimated $3 million a year to finance $39.5 million in airport improvements.
 In making the announcement, Busey said, "Savannah is the first of an estimated 200 airports that are expected to use the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) program to finance improvements by the end of 1993."
 The program "will dramatically increase the ability of airport authorities to fund improvements and to tailor expansion to meet their own needs," Busey said.
 The Savannah Airport Commission plans to use PFC revenues to build a new two-level passenger terminal building, a new aircraft parking apron and related taxiways, and new entrance and service roads.
 Busey said the PFC program, by providing more capacity and passenger gates, would help to spur airline competition. In addition, the legislation authorizing the fees will reduce barriers to entry by forbidding exclusive long-term lease agreements with any single airline in airport facilities built with PFC revenues. Many existing gates were constructed with airline financial guarantees in exchange for exclusive use of those facilities.
 Busey said 19 airports have applied to the FAA for approval to charge fees to finance some $2 billion in airport development projects. They include airports in Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Portland, Ore., Tulsa, and Austin, Texas. The FAA is expected to act on the Las Vegas request in February and the others by June.
 An additional 75 airports have expressed an interest in levying passenger charges. Some have begun the process of preparing to apply for FAA approval. They are considering using such fees to finance an estimated $10.6 billion in development projects.
 Congress authorized collection of PFCs in the Aviation Safety and Capacity Expansion Act of 1990. Funds from the PFCs must be used to enhance the capacity, safety or security of the air transportation system, promote competition, reduce noise or expand passenger facilities.
 PFCs are charges of up to $3 that could be imposed by airports on departing passengers as well as those making connecting flights. No more than four such fees can be collected from one passenger on a round trip. Large and medium-sized airports levying a PFC will forego up to one-half of FAA airport grant entitlement funds.
 When the PFC program is fully functioning, assuming most hub airports participate in the program, a nationwide total of $1 billion per year could be collected for airport improvements. The expenditure of these funds has the potential for creating up to 40,000 jobs, direct and indirect, nationwide. The resulting improvements can, in turn, further stimulate economic growth and employment.
 A proposal by the Savannah Airport Commission to build a highway interchange to serve the airport cannot be approved until the commission obtains a satisfactory property interest in the underlying land. Some other projects for which Savannah sought funding, such as auto parking facilities, are ineligible under the legislation.
 However, FAA has told the commission that it will continue working with airport officials to satisfy administrative requirements for all projects, such as the interchange, that could otherwise have been found eligible.
 -0- 1/31/92
 /CONTACT: Fred Farrar of the Federal Aviation Administration, 202-267-8521/ CO: Federal Aviation Administration ST: Georgia IN: AIR SU:


SB-TW -- DC015 -- 5560 01/31/92 11:09 EST
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Date:Jan 31, 1992
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