News Article - September 26, 2007

By Benet Wilson/Aviation Daily

  A new airline privilege fee being charged by the city of Tinicum, Pa. - location of Philadelphia International Airport - is being challenged by the Air Transport Association (ATA) and the Air Carrier Association of America (ACAA). ATA and ACAA contend that the fee - based on the same methodology used to compute landing fees - is prohibited by the Anti-Head Tax Act, which prohibits the imposition of taxes, fees and charges by state and local jurisdictions on airlines and other airport users. Furthermore, they add, the airport is owned and operated by Philadelphia, and the township does not own or operate any portion of the airport.

   The township imposed the fee after it was unable to reach an agreement with the city of Philadelphia on a settlement of claims for past property taxes, according to the docket. "Had those parties reached a new agreement, it is apparent this matter never would have arisen," the airline groups added. Philadelphia's airlines already pay around $45 million a year in landing fees to the city, the airport's proprietor, said the carrier representatives. They also pay terminal and cargo facility rents, and airline passengers "pay substantial passenger facility charges" imposed by Philadelphia and collected by the airlines, said the carrier representatives in a docket submission to the U.S. Dept. of Transportation.

   ATA and ACAA warn that if the fee is allowed to stand, it would create a "dangerous precedent" for airlines and adversely affect the national air transportation system. "Allowing Tinicum's fee to stand would invite cities, towns and other political bodies around the country to impose similar fees on airlines, resulting in precisely the type of hodgepodge of Balkanized assessments and levies against non-resident travelers... that Congress sought to prohibit with the AHTA," they said. Township manager David Schreiber declined to comment on the filing, citing pending litigation. A call to the township's legal firm was not returned at press time.

Source - Aviation Week