Alaskans should not have to pay higher air fees

Editor’s note: This press statement was received on Jan. 27, 2014.

Alaska and Hawaii’s Congressional delegations today introduced legislation that would exempt residents of the two states – and communities that rely on essential air service as subsidized by the U.S. Department of Transportation – from the increase in air travel fees included in December’s budget deal. This exemption would protect interisland flights from increased air travel fees, which would more than double from $2.50 to $5.60.

“This bill provides a much-needed reality check to the fee hike’s disproportionate impact on Alaskans and Hawaiians who often don’t have a straight-shot option in getting from Point A to Point B,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “In parts of my state, we call these four-stop trips a ‘milk run’ and in other places you need multiple legs on different airlines to get to your destination. Alaskans already deal with higher costs for energy and goods; we shouldn’t make Alaskans pay more for our state’s unique travel challenges.”

“Flying is an essential part of everyday life for so many Alaskans. With so many communities off the road system, Alaskans rely on flights for critical services like medical care. Student athletes fly to neighboring communities for sport and academic events,” said Senator Mark Begich. “The additional fees are an unfair burden for these Alaskans who rely on these flights on a regular basis. My colleagues in Hawaii understand this unique situation and I am grateful for their work to exempt our states from these increased travel fees.”

“The bottom line is that this increase in security fees disproportionately impacts the residents of my state, and that isn’t right,” said Congressman Don Young. “Airline passengers already pay their fair share in taxes, including more than 17 types of taxes and fees, and this additional hardship places an even larger burden on those without transportation alternatives. The legislation introduced today addresses this problem for those who depend on air travel as the only means to access their communities and fuel their economies.”

The legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mark Begich (D-AK), Brian Schatz (D-HI) and in the House by Representatives Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), and Don Young (R-AK).

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