A bipartisan bill filed in the House of Representatives on Wednesday would allow airports to increase passenger fees to finance improvement projects.

The Investing in America: Rebuilding America's Airport Infrastructure Act is sponsored by representatives Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.).

It would eliminate the cap of $4.50 per flight segment on the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC), which has been in-place since 2000. In exchange, the bill would reduce federal funding for Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants from $3.35 billion annually to $2.95 billion. It would also eliminate a requirement that large airports get a portion of annual AIP funding if those hubs charge PFCs of more than $4.50. That provision, DeFazio's office said in a press release, should help direct money toward smaller airports.

The bill was submitted as President Trump and stakeholders throughout the U.S. aviation industry are decrying the condition of U.S. airports. But while there is widespread agreement over the need for airport upgrades, eliminating the cap on the PFC will surely be controversial.

In 2016, a proposal backed by airport and travel industry trade groups to increase the cap to $8.50 failed. Airlines opposed an increase, arguing that airports are already adequately funded and that increasing ticket fees drives down demand.

The trade group Airports Council International -- North America estimates an investment need of $100 billion for U.S. airports over the next five years. It praised the bill, calling the PFC, introduced in 1990, "the foundation of airport capital investment."

"We welcome Reps. DeFazio and Massie's bipartisan leadership to get Washington out of the way of local infrastructure decisions," ACI-NA CEO Kevin Burke said in a statement. "We will continue our important work with the Trump administration and Congress to ensure no airport is left behind in the global marketplace."

The U.S. Travel Association, which has long called for removal of the PFC cap, also issued a statement in support of the legislation.

"There has long been overwhelming agreement that our nation's airports must be updated to keep up with growing travel demand if America is to remain economically competitive," said U.S. Travel CEO Roger Dow. "Adjusting the PFC cap will empower local airport authorities to invest in targeted infrastructure projects, improving security and the flying experience for travelers, and keeping us globally competitive."

Conversely, consumer advocacy group Travelers United stated, "America's aviation consumers don't deserve an increase in airport taxes."

"There are many other ways to fund airport infrastructure. Let's use the uncommitted aviation trust fund monies that passengers have already paid before raising taxes on passengers," the group stated.


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