Airport Funding: Alternative Methods for Collecting Airports’ Passenger Facility Charges and Implementation Factors to Consider

Since 1992, Passenger Facility Charges (PFCs) have been collected from airline passengers as part of the ticket’s purchase to help U.S. commercial service airports pay for projects such as construction or improvement of runways and terminals. Airlines remit the collected PFCs to participating airports, as approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). By law, PFCs cannot exceed $4.50 per flight segment, for a maximum of two charges on a one-way trip or four charges on a round trip. In 2017, about $3.3 billion in PFCs was collected. U.S. Government Accountability Office's (GAO’s) prior reports identified three basic alternative methods that could be used to collect PFCs: kiosk or counter, Internet or online payment, or emerging technologies, noting that the alternatives were not mutually exclusive. GAO’s prior work also identified factors to be considered in any proposal to change the ticket-based collection method currently used in the United States. GAO was asked to provide an update on alternative methods to the ticket-based fee collection method, given advances in technology and increasing consumer adoption. This report addresses: (1) Alternative methods that could be used to collect PFCs; (2) How airports worldwide are currently using these alternative methods to collect passenger fees; and (3) Whether the factors to consider prior to implementing alternative methods for collecting PFCs have changed since GAO’s prior work. To address these objectives, GAO reviewed prior GAO reports; industry, government, and academic publications; and FAA documents. GAO interviewed FAA officials and aviation stakeholders who have roles in PFC collection and whom GAO interviewed for its prior work, including representatives of airport and airline associations, consumer groups, and the aviation technology sector, for their updated assessment on alternative PFC collection methods, their use world-wide, and factors to consider in the implementation of these methods. GAO searched literature and airport websites to identify examples of non-U.S. airports that use non-ticket-based methods to collect passenger fees; the identified airports are those that GAO was able to contact directly to confirm their method to collect passenger fees. GAO also reviewed government data on Americans’ use of Internet and mobile technology.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; References;
  • Pagination: 12p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01690412
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: GAO-19-238R
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Dec 20 2018 2:29PM