March 11, 2015


Bill Exempts Alaska, Hawaii From Increase in Air Travel Fees

Washington, D.C. – Senators Mazie K. Hirono, Lisa Murkowski, and Brian Schatz introduced legislation today that would exempt Hawaii, Alaska, and communities that rely on essential air service as subsidized by the U.S. Department of Transportation, from the increase in air travel fees included in the Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2013. This exemption would protect interisland flights in Hawaii and intrastate flights in Alaska from increased air travel fees, which have more than doubled from $2.50 to $5.60 per enplanement.  

“Raising air travel fees puts an unfair burden on the people of Hawaii for whom air travel is essential and I will continue to oppose such increases,” said Senator Mazie K. Hirono  “Hawaii residents and visitors have no real alternative to commercial interisland flights to meet their everyday transportation needs, from flying to receive health care, visit family, or on business. As a result, the increased passenger fee has a real effect on Hawaii families and small businesses that aren’t felt in other parts of the country. This bipartisan legislation that I also introduced last year ensures that people in Hawaii and Alaska are shielded from higher fees, particularly for air travel within our states.”

“The aviation fee hike has a disproportionate impact on Alaskans and Hawaii residents who often don’t have a straight-shot option in getting from Point A to Point B like those in the Lower 48,” said Senator Murkowski. “Whether you’re an Alaskan on the ‘milk run’ or trying to get into a hub from off the road system, logistics means that we need multiple legs on different airlines to get to your destination.  Worse still, the Alaskans that would be hit by this added cost are frequently the least able to afford it; Alaskans already deal with higher costs for energy and goods; enough is enough.”

“Air travel is a necessity, not a luxury in our island state," said Senator Schatz. "Rising TSA fees put an unfair burden on Hawai‘i residents who depend on air travel for work, health care, and to visit family.  Our legislation recognizes our geographic realities and would exempt Hawai‘i and Alaska from unfair travel fees."

Both Alaska and Hawaii have unique geographical complexities that make air travel exceptionally important. With no railway, trucking, or bus systems connecting Hawaii to other states or between the islands themselves, air transportation serves as Hawaii’s primary interstate and intrastate highway system. Similarly, in Alaska, air travel is often the most efficient way to travel between communities, especially in remote areas. In the past, Congress has recognized the unique need for air travel in the non-contiguous states and provided relief from air travel fees. Last year, Senators Hirono, Murkowski, and Schatz introduced the same bill to exempt Hawaii and Alaska from the increase in air travel fees.