Feds Say They'll Start Collecting This Year
The Department of Homeland Security
(DHS) has a new mission -- bill collecting. The department says US
airlines owe it $196 million in unpaid airport security fees, and
it's going to start collecting this year.
So why haven't the airlines been paying the fees?
Southwest Airlines, American Airlines and United Air Lines are
among the 26 carriers contesting the fees, calling them unfair and
AMR spokesman Tim Wagner told Bloomberg, "American Airlines
believes it has presented a compelling case to the TSA that this
money is not owed."
DHS created the fees after new security screening procedures
were enacted following the terrorist attacks of 9/11. When the
government took responsibility for screening bags and pax it based
its fees on current costs to the airlines.
The Transportation Security Agency's (TSA) chief financial
officer says the total owed on unpaid fees could grow to $294
million by the end of the year.
And that's not all: Like many government agencies, the TSA wants
to decrease its reliance on funding via general tax revenues. To do
so, it wants to increase the fees it charges for security services
by 42 percent.
That would mean a $448 million per year TSA bill to US
According to Bloomberg,
the TSA's FY2008 budget assumes $98 million in back-fee
collections and the higher rate of $448 million. That
pushes the total due from US airlines at the end of the year from
the current $316 million to $546 million.
The agency claims its biggest debtors last year were Southwest,
$24 million, American, $18.8 million, and Delta, $14.9 million.
Among the carriers filing protests last year were Delta,
Continental Airlines, Northwest Airlines and US Airways.
Gee, I wish I could just say my taxes were 'unfair and