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.


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.

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