A Democratic-controlled Senate panel approved a $2.50 increase in airline security fees, which would double the per-passenger fees for a non-stop flight, according to an article from MSNBC.com.
The decision by the Senate Appropriations Committee would increase the fee on a nonstop round-trip flight from $5 to $10, according to the article. Fees on a one-way, non-stop ticket would increase from $2.50 to $5. The rates for passengers who change planes to reach their destinations would continue to pay a $5 fee each way.
A similar move last year was blocked with the Republicans controlling the House, and the current effort faces long odds in an election year, MSNBC reports.
A motion by Republican panelists to kill the higher fee – which is attached to a homeland security measure funding the Transportation Security Administration – failed on a 15-15 vote.
The author of the proposal, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said that the current fee structure only covers about one-fourth of the TSA's airport security costs and that people who fly should bear a greater cost of TSA's $7.6 billion budget, rather than taxpayers as a whole, the article says.
The fee's supporters pointed out that airlines are laying fee after fee upon their customers, and baggage fees in particular are placing a greater strain on TSA resources since people are carrying-on far more luggage that needs to be screened at TSA checkpoints.
"The fee has not been increased in 10 years and of course the expenses for TSA continue to go up and it is a question of whether the general taxpayer should pay this or whether the people that actually use the airlines (should)," Landrieu said.
The Republicans opposing the measure said that a higher fee would hurt an airline industry that is already reeling from a weak economy and high fuel prices. Republican leader Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas noted that multi-passenger families would bear the greatest burden, the article says.
"Aviation is already taxed at the highest rate of any industry in the country," Hutchinson said. "The industry's federal tax burden on a typical $300 round-trip ticket has nearly tripled since 1972 from $22 to $61."