Miami International Seeks Federal Ok For Passenger Tax Hike
By Victor Cruz
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A request by Miami International Airport officials to raise passenger taxes by $1.50 per ticket will be sent this week to the Federal Aviation Authority for approval, said Zeke Orji, the county’s Aviation Department finance manager.
The increase to the $3 fee passengers already pay and that goes toward airport improvements would become effective "no sooner than January" if the FAA approves the request, Mr. Orji said.
The new rate would result in a net gain of $14 million in 2002 after entitlement grant funds are reduced to compensate for the increased rate, according to county documents.
In late June, the aviation department wrote in a draft application that the additional funds would be used toward a $278 million project that is already under way and scheduled to be finished at the end of 2003.
The work outlined in the draft included improvements to three gates at a cost of $118.6 million, extension of an upper roadway for $87.2 million and an aircraft apron for $12.9 million.
In July, the aviation authority added several million dollars in construction projects to taxiways, a vehicle drive extension and mid-field development to the existing request, Mr. Orji said.
Airline officials were notified of the potential change in April. A meeting with them was held by county representatives in May.
The airlines, which get a 12 % fee for processing the tax, have expressed approval, Airport Director Angela Gittens said.
Authority for granting the federal tax, which appears among other fees on airline tickets, has been around since the passage of the Capacity Expansion Act of 1990, which created the charge to provide revenue for airport capital development, according to county documents.
A federal reform measure officially implemented May 30, 2000, opened the door to allow an increased maximum "passenger facility charge," according to documents.
"About 55 of the nation’s 250 major airports charge what MIA does," Ms. Gittens said.