Raises Concerns about Preclearance Facility Set to Open in Abu Dhabi
WASHINGTON, Jan. 14, 2014 – Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, called the just-released omnibus appropriations bill a win for airline passengers and shippers, with no new aviation taxes and targeted funding that will help ensure the reliability and efficiency of air travel, while improving how customers travel through security and customs.
While passenger tax increases were considered during negotiations, the final bill calls for no increases in taxes on travel. A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio praised that decision, noting that aviation is subject to 17 unique federal taxes, which on a typical $300 domestic ticket already total $61.
Additionally, the bill includes the following benefits for passengers and shippers:
- Recognizes that customs wait times have reached record highs at U.S. international airports and dedicates significant resources to hire additional new Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers.
- Designates $7.3 billion to maintain the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) air traffic controller and safety inspector workforces, ensuring no budget-related furloughs.
- Dedicates $32.2 million to develop and implement performance-based navigation procedures, enabling greater use of the NextGen air traffic management system, improving reliability and on-time performance.
- Calls for a strategy to be developed to increase risk-based screening eligibility to one-half of all passengers.
“We appreciate the leadership of House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers and Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski for recognizing the importance of commercial aviation to the economy and jobs by putting forward a funding bill that will help ensure that air travel can continue unfettered, and passengers can move more rapidly through customs and security,” said Calio. “We also thank House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor for their support in moving an appropriations bill that does not increase taxes or fees on airlines or our customers.”
At the same time, Calio raised concern that the bill permits a Feb. 1 opening of an Abu Dhabi preclearance facility, which the House has previously voted to prohibit in the FY 2014 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations bill.
“A4A believes that CBP should focus on resolving lengthy wait times at U.S. international airports before opening new preclearance facilities overseas,” Calio said. “We look forward to working with Congress and CBP to that end.”
Airlines for America (A4A) members are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines, FedEx, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and UPS. Air Canada is an associate member.
A4A advocates on behalf of the leading U.S. airlines, both passenger and cargo carriers. A4A works collaboratively with industry stakeholders, federal agencies, the Administration, Congress, labor and other groups to improve aviation for the traveling and shipping public.