Rich Thomaselli compares passengers footing the bill for airport improvements through the Passenger Facility Charge to a shopper paying a fee to visit a local mall. "The supporters of an increase in the PFC are using twisted logic," he writes. "According to Airlines [f]or America, since 2008 U.S. airlines, together with airport partners, have invested more than $52 billion in airport infrastructure," he continues. He also points out that airport revenues have easily outpaced inflation. "From 2000 to 2013, airport revenues per passenger grew 52% -- far exceeding inflation (the consumer price index rose 35%) and the average domestic airfare (which rose 22% including ancillary fees) during the same period."
Columnist Ted Reed says the Export-Import Bank is harming U.S. airlines by financing aircraft for foreign airlines. Over the past 10 months, the bank has provided low-cost financing to five airlines. "None of them are from economically disadvantaged third-world countries," Reed writes. "In fact, all of them get more backing from their country's governments than U.S. airlines do."
Scott Hamilton, managing director of an aviation consulting company, says 2013 is a tough year to predict for the airline industry. "About the only thing aviation industry insiders are clear on heading into 2013 is that there are very few sure bets to be had," he writes. However, he does focus on 10 stories to follow this year.
Despite a rise of more than 50% in the cost of fuel, many media stories portray the airlines as "nickel and diming" passengers for extra revenue, Julia A. Seymour writes. And while making much of the airlines' "record profits" last year, Seymour notes that most reports fail to mention that the industry lost more than $50 billion over the last 10 years, according to ATA calculations.
Airport security hassles have led many experts to call for a renewed Trusted Traveler program that uses "positive profiling" to expedite passengers known to pose no security threat. But Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the Business Travel Coalition, writes that such an effort is bound to fail unless structural changes are made to the program, including background checks and technology controls overseen by the TSA rather than private vendors.