Hartsfield-Jackson chief calls for higher passenger fees

Hartsfield-Jackson airline travelers now pay a $4.50 passenger facility charge -- which is the federal cap. The airport collected $167.5 million in revenue from the charge in the 2008 fiscal year.

The House passed legislation including an increase of the cap to $7, though the Senate has not taken up the issue.

Passenger facility charge revenues help pay for airport projects such as the international terminal, scheduled to open in 2012. Planned projects to be funded by the passenger facility charge include an expansion of the current terminal.

After an event Thursday for the 15th anniversary of the airport’s international Concourse E, DeCosta said he hopes Congress will allow a passenger facility charge of up to $7.50 per passenger, with a provision for further increases.

“It would enable us to make sure that we have a very strong and stable source of funding and that will ensure that our credit ratings are up,” DeCosta said.

Amid difficult conditions for bond financing, the airport has delayed the sale of $800 million in bonds and now expects to go into the market around November. Also affecting plans are discussions with Delta Air Lines, which is negotiating a new long-term lease with the airport.

Airlines oppose an increase in the passenger facility charge.

“Not only is it not needed; it’s an inopportune time to further tax passengers when they can ill afford to fly as it is,” said David Castelveter, a spokesman for the Air Transport Association, an airline industry group.

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