The Hawaii and Alaska congressional delegations to the US Congress this week introduced legislation that would exempt Hawaii, Alaska, 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. 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).
“Raising air travel fees ignores the economic hardship for those in Hawaii and Alaska. At a time when people are working harder and getting less, raising fees on residents who have no other option but to rely on air travel for basic necessities is unfair,” said Hirono. “That’s why this bill is important and I am pleased to join my colleagues from Hawaii and Alaska to ask Congress to recognize the travel needs of non-contagious states.”
“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 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.”
"This TSA fee affects Hawaii more due to our unique reliance on air travel. We're in a different situation than the mainland and that needs to be considered,” said Schatz. “Hawai‘i families depend on air travel for business, health care, and to visit family. Exempting Hawai‘i and Alaska from this increased fee by recognizing our geographic realities is fair and commonsense.”
“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 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.”
“Any increase in airline fees or taxes unfairly burdens Hawaii residents who have no other option but air travel just to go to work, access healthcare, or visit family and friends,” said Gabbard. “By passing this legislation, Congress would again recognize the unique travel needs of our state, as it has done several times in the past. While I understand the need to support air travel security through this fee, the minuscule amount of revenue that would be gained from increasing these fees in Hawai‘i doesn't come close to the outsized negative impact of a more-than-doubled airline security fee on hard-working people in our state.”
“Hawaii is unique in that air service is essential to traveling between counties within our state. Whether for pleasure, business, medical treatment, or simply to visit family on other islands, Hawaii residents and visitors have no real alternative to commercial intra-state flights to meet their transportation needs. As a result, the passenger security fee increase is financially disproportionate and hits Hawaii families and businesses hard. An exemption from the fee increase is both fair and necessary, in light of our state’s unique circumstances," said Hanabusa.
“The bottom line is that this increase in security fees disproportionately impacts the residents of my state, and that isn’t right,” said 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.”