Washington (AFP) - Air travelers will avoid some new taxes this year after Congress scrapped a proposal to raise fees on international tickets, a move the industry applauded as a victory for passengers.
The Senate version of the $1 trillion spending bill had proposed hiking the immigration inspection user fee from $7 to $9 per international ticket, but the compromise version of the legislation, which is expected to pass Congress this week, dropped the fee increase.
Lawmakers had already earned the ire of US airlines and consumer groups last month when Congress raised another Transportation Security Administration (TSA) fee as a way to help pay for ending billions of dollars in crippling automatic cuts to federal spending.
That move more than doubles the "9/11 Aviation Security Fee" from $2.50 per flight segment to $5.60, generating some $13 billion over a decade.
Nicholas Calio, president and chief executive of industry trade group Airlines for America (A4A), thanked House leaders for supporting "an appropriations bill that does not increase taxes or fees on airlines or our customers."
"We appreciate the leadership for recognizing the importance of commercial aviation to the economy and jobs by putting forward a funding bill that will help ensure that air travel can continue unfettered," he added.
A4A had mobilized a lobbying effort last year to oppose both fee hikes, arguing they would be a drag on the massive industry.
Passengers are already paying an average of $61 in taxes and fees on a typical $300 domestic round-trip ticket.
The TSA, tasked with protecting airports, nevertheless got hit hard in the new spending omnibus.
Funding to the Department of Homeland Security will shrink by $336 million, with most of those reductions reportedly at TSA.