Higher TSA fees clear Senate committee - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Higher TSA fees clear Senate committee

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By Howard Dicus

HONOLULU and WASHINGTON (HawaiiNewsNow) - U.S. airlines are pleading with Congress not to let the Transportation Security Administration double its plane ticket fees, but the proposal is so far sailing through Congress.

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted Tuesday to recommend approval of an increase in the TSA fee from $5 to $10 per person per roundtrip, a move sought by TSA after its regular funding was cut in the interest of deficit reduction.

"It's a simple equation," said Nicholas Calio, CEO of Airlines for America, the former Air Transport Association. "When you add taxes, demand for air travel is dampening, resulting in lost jobs and lost air service."

Calio said Tuesday that 20 percent of the price of an average airline ticket consists of taxes and fees. That, he said, is "on pair with taxes for alcohol and tobacco, products taxed to discourage their use."

Airlines have been raising air fares themselves - several increases since the year began, increasing most plane tickets at least 6 percent in five months - to try to cover their soaring jet fuel bills, which now cost more than payroll.

Because crude oil prices stopped rising in May - U.S. benchmark crude peaked at $106 a barrel on May 2 and has been trading at $91 a barrel for the past week - airlines were hoping for smaller summer fuel bills, allowing them to avoid any further air fare hikes.

In other airline news…

-Japan Airlines has won an antitrust waiver from Japanese regulators to coordinate its European flight schedules with alliance partner British Airways. Both carriers belong to American Airlines' OneWorld Alliance, and JAL already coordinates its U.S. flights with American under a similar exemption.

-American Airlines says it will be the first airline to take delivery on Boeing 777-300ERs, and in December will deploy the first one between Dallas-Ft. Worth and Sao Paulo, Brazil, with subsequent aircraft put onto its DFW-Heathrow corridor.

-Hawaiian Airlines is now one week away from launching its first-ever nonstop service between Honolulu and New York JFK.

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