A National Airline Policy?

Airlines for America logo

When the battle between the airlines and the Department of Transportation (DOT) was raging over long tarmac delays, the airlines had me totally convinced how this would, in the end, be bad for you. However, the DOT (got to love the federal government) and some headstrong consumer advocates held firm and when strict new tarmac standards were put in place – long tarmac delays all but disappeared. Somebody wasn’t telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Now the airlines are once again calling for some major changes in the nation’s air travel structure – many of which I have proposed for some time.

The airline association, Airlines 4 America (A4A), is calling for a National Airline Policy. The proposed new policy has Five Policy Priorities…

  1. Reduce Taxes (you knew that one was coming didn’t you?)
  2. Reform Regulatory Burden
  3. Modernize Air Traffic System
  4. Compete Globally
  5. Stabilize Energy Prices

Each Thursday, we will look at the possible positive and negative impacts these priorities would have on your air travel including the price you pay.

Federal Fees and Taxes

Yesterday I booked a party of two on a non-stop Southwest Airlines flight from Baltimore to Phoenix for travel on August 5-11. Southwest’s "Wanna Get Away" fare of $579.80 RT.

Fare Breakdown

Base fare (the amount Southwest Airlines gets)​$519.06

Taxes and fees (the amount the Government gets)$60.74

Total cost we would pay$579.80 – each of us

I also booked Baltimore – Phoenix – RT by bus

Base Fare (the amount the bus company gets)​$218.00

Taxes and fees (the amount the bus terminal gets)$5.00

Total cost we would pay$223.00 – each of us

I am sure most would agree that the taxes and fees seem a little out of line – NO Federal or State taxes – just a Terminal fee when taking the bus. Both are mass transportation – why shouldn’t they have the same taxes?

A new National Airline Policy is being proposed. As air travelers – get involved! It’s your wallet that’s being hit and it’s your city’s service that could be impacted. I invite you to Keep up with their news and Sign the Petition.

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With 45 years of commercial travel experience, Terry is one of America's foremost authorities on airlines and the rules that govern their operation. Terry began his career in October of 1968 as a ticket and departure gate agent for Northwest Airlines and has since held several positions from which he perfected his trade.

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5 Responses to “A National Airline Policy?”

  1. Bill Shea Says:

    Jul 19, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Yes, a new National Aviation Commission (NAC) is needed now. The FAA should be removed from the USDOT (too busy with surface modal issues) and report to a new five member NAC that would report direct to the president. All other federal aviation activity would be transferred to the NAC. The NAC will be responsiobile for a new national aviation policy, planning, implementation of policy and vision. Additionally the NAC will promote U.S. aviation around the world.


    Billy Shea
    Woodland, CA

  2. Bill Atkins Says:

    Jul 19, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    The pricing scenario you listed shows a 12% tax for SWA and a 2% tax for bus. My three recent trips: 19% on SWA, 19% on AA and 21% on UAL. My tickets include Segment Fee, Passenger Fee and US Flight services fee. I’m okay with a fair tax on airline tickets but these do seem excessive.

  3. Rick Lanman Says:

    Jul 20, 2013 at 4:14 am

    Most of the taxes you pay with your airline ticket price flow into the Aviation Trust Fund and are used to help build and maintain the US National Airway System (NAS). As you worry about how much you pay to fly on an airline, please remember that unlike most other forms of transportation in this country, aviation is mostly paid for only by the user of the aviation system. If you don’t fly on an airline, you don’t pay anything to support the system. Even those pesky little corporate jets that our President has vilified pay a significant amount into the national and local aviation systems. When we deregulated the airlines back in the 70’s, we did away with the very idea of “NAC”. Why would we go back to that system if it didn’t work before? I am thinking Alfred Kahn was correct in that the market will make the corrections to the “best price” and he didn’t understand a damned thing about how public transportation of any kind worked. From where I sit working in the aviation industry $580 to fly across the country in a little over 4 hours is still much more efficient than driving or taking a bus. My time is worth not wasting 2 days on the road each way.

  4. Kelly Johnson Says:

    Jul 20, 2013 at 8:42 am

    The taxes on air carrier ticket sales pay for a nationwide system of air traffic control and some of those taxes and fees are returned to the airports traveled through on your trip. But for those taxes and fees getting returned to the airport, the airline would have to pay for airport improvements directly through rates, fees and charges-guess what happens then? Your ticket price goes up. No surprise here, the system has to be paid for and maintained. Aviation is one of the few industries where the user (the airline) has their production plant (the airports) paid for by the local community and through the return of some taxes and fees the customer pays. Folks, it isn’t as simple as a4a and others make it sound. At the end of the day, shouldn’t the people who use the system pay for that system?

  5. Airline Industry – Over Taxed & Over Regulated | The Plane Rules Says:

    Jul 25, 2013 at 7:45 am

    […] the playing field needs to be leveled through a change in the tax structure and regulations. Last week I showed how much tax is added to an airline ticket vs. a bus ticket.  The note drew four comments […]

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