Are Passenger Facility Charges the Answer to Airport Funding Problems?

I’m not sure if there is another industry that has started to nickel and dime its users more than aviation.  Some of these charges have already been implemented, and others have simply been proposed.  Airlines are now charging for food, checked baggage, and even for carry-ons in some cases.  Recently most of the major airlines also increased their flight change fees to $200, which was the same amount I paid for my last round-trip ticket in the first place.

Despite all of these new fees, and the simultaneous reduction in service, the airlines are still doing quite well.  Like many other industries, airlines will likely continue to increase fees and charges as much as the market will bear.  With the debatable success of all of these fees it is reasonable to question if airports couldn’t benefit from increasing these fees themselves.

In the past airports have relied heavily on the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) in order to fund major improvements like new runways, taxiways, or terminals.  However, as the cost of these improvements has increased there has not been a coinciding increase in funds.  Airports are having to get creative with ways to fund the projects they need because this previous source just isn’t cutting it.

One of these income sources are Passenger Facility Charges (PFC).  PFCs are currently capped by Congress at $4.50 but there is an increasing number of supporters trying to get that cap lifted.  The airports themselves are one of the biggest supporters of lifting the cap, but groups like AAAE are also lobbying hard to make this a reality.

I don’t know if PFCs are necessarily the answer, but it is time to give airports more ability to support themselves.  Congress has shown their complete ineptitude when it comes to pretty much anything, but especially when it comes to budgets and funding anything.  They need to get out of the way of the people who know how to fix problems and take care of their needs.

Whether it is PFCs or some other source, it is clear that airports need more funding to support their needs, let alone their wants.  What do you think, should Congress lift the cap on PFCs, or is there another way for airports to raise the money they need?