WASHINGTON, May 24, 2016 – Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, today urged Senators Edward Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) to focus on real solutions to address unacceptable airport wait times, such as returning billions of dollars in security fees that were diverted to cover deficit spending, while responding to misguided calls for airlines to adjust their pricing models.
In a letter to Sens. Markey and Blumenthal (D-CT), A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio commended Sens. Markey and Blumenthal for being passionate advocates of improving air service for the traveling public and urged both Senators to apply that passion toward sending legislation to the President’s desk that ensures TSA ticket taxes will be used to improve security, not to move the numbers on a budget deal. A4A also sent a letter to Congressional leadership.
In 2013, a TSA fee increase was approved. Congress also voted to divert $13 billion of that increase over a 10-year period to pay for the budget deficit.
Calio noted the irony of both Senators voting to divert billions in aviation security fees away from TSA, and then calling on airlines to offer free checked baggage to help address increasingly lengthy TSA wait times. That revenue diversion decision has come home to roost, to the dismay of travelers in Massachusetts, Connecticut and across the country.
Calio said extended lines have not been caused by airline pricing, a model that has been in place since 2008, but rather caused by TSA and Congress cutting staff and reducing the number of people included in risk-based screening programs while the number of travelers was increasing as projected.
Encouraging passengers to check more bags is not a solution to address unacceptable airport security wait times, Calio said, and would actually exacerbate checked baggage screening issues that are resulting in passengers missing their connections.
“As you are well aware from your briefings from TSA, passenger screening delays are present even at airports served predominantly by airlines that offer free checked bags,” said Calio. “Simply put – a checked bag has to be screened just as a carry-on will be screened.”
Annually, commercial aviation helps drive nearly $1.5 trillion in U.S. economic activity and more than 11 million U.S. jobs. Airlines for America (A4A) vigorously advocates on behalf of the American airline industry as a model of safety, customer service and environmental responsibility and as the indispensable network that drives our nation’s economy and global competitiveness.
America needs a cohesive National Airline Policy that will support the integral role the nation’s airlines play in connecting people and goods globally, spur the nation’s economic growth and create more high-paying jobs. A4A works collaboratively with the airlines, labor groups, Congress and the Administration to improve air travel for everyone.
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Managing Director, Airline Industry Public Relations and Communications
Managing Director, Government and Regulatory Communications
Senior Vice President, Communications