The Hawaii and Alaska congressional delegations introduced legislation on Monday 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 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."
"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.
"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."