This time of year, many families are traveling to visit loved ones and celebrate the holidays. For many families, the cost of a plane ticket is a significant expense. Why, then, is the federal government trying to make plane tickets more expensive by lifting the cap on the passenger facility charge?

The passenger facility charge is currently capped at $4.50, but there are conversations in Washington about lifting that cap. It might not seem like a lot of money at first glance, but consider that for one person traveling round trip, with a connecting flight, that totals $18 – then multiply that by the number of people in a family.

Now that could go up even more. In recent years, over $3 billion a year has been collected from Americans through the passenger facility charge. That’s in addition to a slew of other taxes and fees that you pay each time you buy a plane ticket. If the passenger facility charge cap is lifted and the fee goes up a dollar, it’s been estimated that Americans will be out another $800 million annually.

In Maine, we know the importance of reasonable plane tickets that families can afford, both so Mainers can visit family elsewhere, and so visitors can get to our state. Our economy is hugely impacted by tourists, and if it’s more expensive to fly it’s easy to see how people from outside the Northeast might be less inclined to trek up to our corner of the country. Or they might choose to fly into Boston to cut out the connecting flight, and Portland’s airport will lose out on passengers and accompanying revenue.

At all levels of government, we should be trying to cut taxes and fees, not increase them. An increase in the passenger facility charge won’t be good for American families, and it won’t be good for Maine.

Heidi Sampson

Alfred