Travelers wait for their flight Feb. 17, 2022, at Paine Field Airport in Everett. (Ryan Berry / Herald file)

Travelers wait for their flight Feb. 17, 2022, at Paine Field Airport in Everett. (Ryan Berry / Herald file)

Paine Field hopes to extend a $4.50 airport passenger fee

Standard at most airports, the fee would help fund ramp repairs at the Snohomish County airport.

EVERETT — Paine Field officials will ask federal regulators to extend a $4.50 passenger facility charge at the Everett airport through 2029.

The fee went into effect in late 2020 and is due to expire next year.

“The amount isn’t changing. This is an amendment to extend its collection,” Paine Field spokesperson Kristin Banfield said of the charge at the Snohomish County-owned airport.

Bellingham International Airport and Seattle-Tacoma International Airports charge a $4.50 fee.

The fee, a standard charge paid by most air travelers, is collected by the airlines as part of their passenger ticket prices. Most is returned to the airport.

The funds can only be used to finance federally approved projects, such as those that increase airport safety or capacity.

The additional funds will be used to help reconstruct a ramp adjacent to the passenger terminal and other projects. The ramp repair project is currently out to bid, but is projected to cost $8.3 million, Banfield said.

Propeller Airports, which owns and operates the terminal, repaired its portion of the ramp — the section leased from the airport — during the COVID pandemic.

Now, it’s the airport’s turn to repair its portion of the ramp, Banfield said.

Congress, which sets the amount of the passenger facility charge, last approved raising the fee in 2000. Since then, it’s been capped at $4.50.

Some airport officials have lobbied Congress to raise the cap. They contend that additional funds are needed for airport improvement projects.

In 2017, Sea-Tac officials testified before the aviation subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives in hopes of lifting the cap.

Under a century-old Congressional act, airports are required to be as self-sustaining as possible.

“If you don’t use the airport, you don’t pay for the airport” — the notion that aviation should pay for itself — is a precedent that dates to the 1925 Kelly Act, also known as The Air Mail Act.

Airports generally receive little or no taxpayer support, and are supported in part by the fees, rents and leases they collect from airlines, travelers and airport tenants. The federal Airport Improvement Program, which supports projects to repair and upgrade runways, ramps, lighting, signage and weather stations, is funded by aviation fuel taxes and taxes on airplane tickets.

Paine Field plans to petition the Federal Aviation Administration to continue the $4.50 fee, Banfield said.

Under FAA rules, the airport must seek public comment.

“We usually put a blurb on the airport’s website,” Banfield said. “We’re trying to make sure we’re doing our part and sharing the information.”

For more information go to painefield.com and search PFC or tinyurl.com/3ee4x3mb

To comment on extending the fee at Paine Field, contact Nickolis Landgraff, airport business manager, at nickolis.landgraff@co.snohomish.wa.us

Comments or questions must be received by April 10.

Janice Podsada: 425-339-3097; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @JanicePods.

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