Airline Industry Uses Barf Bags to Heave Obama Fee, Tax Hikes

Wednesday, 19 Oct 2011 05:54 PM

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The airline industry wants to heave President Barack Obama’s proposals for airport fee and tax increases — and it is using barf bags to show its disdain for the hikes.

"It's enough to make you sick, isn't it?" Air Transport Association President Nick Calio said as he displayed an air sickness bag during his speech Tuesday in which he decried the Obama administration’s proposed departure tax and an increase on security taxes.

Obama proposes a $100 departure tax for each flight, as well as increasing the security tax from $2.50 for each leg of a flight to $5 for each one-way trip, according USA Today. The departure tax would exempt military craft, emergency medical flights, and planes with piston engines.

If Congress endorses the taxes, they are estimated to raise $36 billion over 10 years, with $15 billion designated for deficit reduction.

The air-sickness bags, which Calio unveiled at a Washington Aero Club luncheon, are part of an advertising campaign against the taxes primarily aimed at the congressional supercommittee that is trying to find $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions by Thanksgiving.

A message on the bags says: "Sick of taxes?" with an arrow pointed to the top. "Stop new airline taxes from driving up costs and reducing service."

Calio noted that even some Republicans consider airline taxes "low-hanging fruit" to pick as user fees passed along to passengers through ticket prices, USA Today reported. But he said raising prices would reduce the number of tickets sold, which he said would crimp airline staffing and ultimately the economy.

"These should be the forbidden fruit," USA Today quotes Calio as saying. "Whatever you want to call them, the airline tax proposals make no sense whatsoever."

Passengers already pay about 20 percent in taxes and fees for a flight, USA Today reported.

Regional airlines, which carry more than half of domestic fliers each day, contend that such increases could force them to pull out of small cities. That concerns airports in smaller cities, according to another USA Today report.

"Aviation shouldn't be a piggy bank for every other purpose," Roger Cohen, president of the Regional Airline Association, told USA Today. "This was proposed, I think, based on the (bank robber) Willie Sutton theory that this is where the money is."


Passengers also are riled. "We are flying on packed planes at increasingly higher rates with larded-on fees and taxes," Adam Conrad, 45, a health care software executive from Duncansville, Pa., told USA Today. "I have flown over a million miles, and my next million is looking like it will cost a million."

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