Over the years, the government has imposed an increasing number of taxes and fees on airlines,
travelers and shippers, undermining the positive economic impact of aviation. Air travel
is taxed at much higher rates than other modes of transportation. In fact, aviation’s
federal tax rate is higher than that on alcohol or tobacco – products taxed to discourage
their use. Taxes on passengers and airlines have skyrocketed by 400 percent over the past
two decades. Since 1990, the number of U.S. federal aviation taxes has increased from six to 17 and the amount of taxes paid went from $3.7 billion in 1990 to over $23 billion in 2016.
Reducing the tax burden would help keep airfares affordable, allowing the traveling public to fly more often, encouraging economic growth. Congress should repeal the commercial jet fuel tax, which costs 4.4 cents per gallon, prevent any increase to the passenger facility charge and reject proposals to a value-added tax approach to airlines’ optional services.
Even though the U.S. airline industry was
deregulated in 1978, it is still one of the most regulated industries in the country and
government regulations have grown rapidly over the past two decades.
Certain regulations are critical to enhancing airline operations and providing the safest mode of transportation. However, many regulations are unnecessary and costly, negatively impacting the industry’s ability to create jobs and facilitate economic growth. There are several pending and proposed regulations that will not improve safety, security or the passenger experience.
More thoughtful, consistent and streamlined U.S. airline regulations would save billions of dollars, spurring more investment in newer planes, expanding routes and preserving air service in smaller markets. The government needs to adopt regulations that are based on science and facts, can be justified on a cost-benefit basis and eliminate inefficient rules.
Our nation’s skies are as critical to jobs and the economy as our roads, bridges and rail. As Congress and the administration work to develop an infrastructure improvement plan, reforming our air traffic control (ATC) system must be a part of the conversation because only transformational change will bring about modernization on the scale the U.S. needs to maintain global leadership.
Unnecessary flight delays that are often the result of outdated, WWII-era technology and procedures cost the United States an estimated $25 billion in 2016 alone.
A4A supports the separation of the ATC service provider from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and putting it under an independent, not-for-profit entity funded by the system users. This model removes politics from the ATC system and guarantees a reliable funding stream, allowing for long-term capital improvements that keep pace with technology, while enabling the FAA to focus on what it does best: regulate safety.
Transforming our ATC system and getting NextGen done would be the single largest infrastructure project in the country and would make air travel more efficient, dependable and convenient. The benefits include: enhanced safety, reduced delays, fuel savings, reduced emissions, increased capacity and greater operational efficiency. Airports and aircraft would be connected to NextGen’s advanced infrastructure and would continually share real-time information to provide a better travel experience.
Most importantly, the traveling and shipping public deserves better. The U.S. airlines operate 27,000 flights each day that carry 2.2 million passengers and 50,000 tons of cargo. Reforming our ATC system is vital to economic growth and job creation in the communities we serve.
Many foreign governments treat their airlines as strategic assets to their citizens and economy, and
have adapted accordingly. These airlines do not face the same tax, regulatory and
infrastructure burdens as U.S. airlines do. As a result, foreign carriers are growing at
an increasing rate, reinvesting in their products and expanding their global
For our members, access to the fastest-growing global markets is critical to U.S. economic growth and domestic service. Unlike foreign carriers, U.S. airlines serve small, rural and other nonhub communities throughout the country. More profitable international operations enable domestic carriers to provide service to less-profitable small and rural markets.
Customs wait times have reached record high at U.S. points of entry and international air traffic is expected to increase. Given the importance of international travelers to the overall U.S. economy, ensuring sufficient Customs and Border Protection officer staffing at major U.S. commercial airports is critical to facilitating international tourism to the U.S. and enhancing the global competitiveness of U.S. airlines.
The government needs to play its role in ensuring U.S. commercial aviation is operating on a level playing field with foreign competitors, enabling carriers to respond with maximum effectiveness to global competition.
Between 2000 and 2015, U.S. airlines carried 24 percent more traffic using 6 percent less fuel – resulting in a 6 percent reduction in carbon emissions. During the same time, the average price paid by U.S. airlines for jet fuel rose 130 percent, almost doubling jet-fuel costs for U.S. airlines.
Our members are committed to development and deployment of alternative fuels and have already invested billions of dollars in new aircraft and technologies that decrease emissions.
Stabilizing the cost of jet fuel and and avoiding increases in jet-fuel taxes would help keep airfares affordable, preserve air service, and encourage investment in alternative fuels, advanced aircraft technologies and more environmentally friendly jet fuel supplies. A national energy policy is needed to improve U.S. energy security and result in more predictable and stable energy supply and costs.
Safety is the number one priority for U.S. airlines. We
support new policies and regulations that are based on sound science and will enhance
aviation safety in an economic and efficient way.
A4A and our members work together collaboratively with labor groups, manufacturers and Federal Aviation Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board and other government agencies to provide a safe and efficient travel experience. As a result, the U.S. airline industry is experiencing the safest period in aviation history, and provides a gold standard for the global aviation community.
The primary responsibility for airline safety regulation lies with the Federal Aviation Administration, which among its other duties, is responsible for developing, maintaining and operating the nation’s air traffic control system. The airline industry is calling for transformational change and leadership to expedite the implementation of NextGen, a long-overdue first step toward changing the governance, financing and delivery of service to travelers and suppliers