A4A Denounces Department of Agriculture’s Unlawful Tax Hike on Air Travel

Says final rule would unjustifiably harm the traveling public, international competitiveness and violate federal law by overcharging aircraft operators for inspection services

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29, 2015 – Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, today urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture to end its decades-long practice of overcharging airlines and their customers by withdrawing an unjustified proposal to increase taxes on aircraft operators by 300 percent.

The Agriculture Department’s own data shows that Agriculture and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has overcharged customers by more than $1 billion over the past decade, with excess charges over a typical year amounting to $148 million. Despite these overcharges, which exceed the cost of the APHIS program, the Department’s proposal would implement a new, unjustifiable, Agriculture Quarantine and Inspection fee structure that increases the tax on aircraft operators by 300 percent.

“The intent of this tax is to cover the cost of inspections, and the government has been collecting an amount that exceeds that cost for more than a decade,” said A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio. “This is an unjustifiable overreach on aircraft operators that will harm consumers, airlines, shippers and the overall competitiveness of the United States.”

In a recent letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Calio applauded the Department’s decision to decrease the air passenger fee, while also noting that the reduction does not offset the $1 billion in overcharges to airline customers over the past decade.


Annually, commercial aviation helps drive $1.5 trillion in U.S. economic activity and more than 10 million U.S. jobs. U.S. airlines fly 2.4 million passengers and more than 58,000 tons of cargo each day. Airlines for America (A4A) advocates on behalf of the American airline industry as a model of safety, customer service and environmental responsibility and as the indispensable network that drives our nation’s economy and global competitiveness.

A4A works collaboratively with the airlines, labor, Congress, the Administration and other groups to improve aviation for the traveling and shipping public.

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