Aviation Groups Balk at Hiked CBP Airport Services Fees

 - May 19, 2020, 9:59 AM

A coalition of aviation groups including NBAA has urged acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) commissioner Mark Morgan to consider alternatives to fee increases at several U.S. airports to address possible budget shortfalls.

Last week, many airports that support international operations with CBP inspection facilities funded by the user-fee program received notice of a significant fee increase—from 29 percent up to 54 percent—with nearly immediate effect. In some cases, said NBAA, the CBP asked airports to either accept the new fee or suspend future CBP service. The CBP’s user-fee program funds inspection services at some 60 airports, most of which support a significant number of general aviation operations.

“We have great concern regarding CBP’s approach to this increase and we are requesting that the agency consider alternative pathways to address these issues,” said NBAA v-p of international and regulatory affairs Doug Carr. “Affected airports are already facing significant decreases in international traffic due to the Covid-19 pandemic, severely impacting airport revenue.”

The associations urged Morgan to postpone the May 17 deadline for airport responses to allow time for the CBP to solicit and consider feedback from airports and users and for consideration of budgetary adjustments. A May 15 letter sent by NBAA, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, American Association of Airport Executives, and National Air Transportation Association asked Morgan to “respect local process for airport oversight and fiscal management.”

The associations also raised their concerns with leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees’ subcommittees on homeland security, urging Congress to include a provision in the Fiscal Year 2021 Department of Homeland Security appropriations act or the next Covid-19 supplemental funding bill that would permit CBP to supplement the user-fee airport fund with appropriations for customs expenses as necessary to maintain operations and prevent adverse effects on airports.