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Port Authority Wants to Extend Facility Charge for St. Thomas Air Passengers

Aug. 10, 2007 — The V.I. Port Authority plans to ask the Federal Aviation Administration to extend for four more years the $3-per-passenger facility charge tacked on to airline tickets.
The fee, implemented Aug. 1, 2004, applies only to Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas. It is set to expire April 8, 2008.
The fee is expected to raise $8 million for the Port Authority by the time it expires, said Port Authority spokesman Marc Stridiron on Friday. The extension is expected to generate an additional $5.5 million, he said.
"The Port Authority identified the need for additional capital improvements that required additional funding," Stridiron said.
Of the initial $8 million collected as passenger facility charge fees, $2.5 million went to pay for improvements to the passenger inspection and screening areas. Another $1 million repaid the Port Authority for money it spent on airport improvements that had come from non-aviation funds.
Another $4.5 million of the $8 million will go for redesigning the passenger arrival, baggage claim and passenger-pickup areas.
The new baggage conveyor belt installed several months ago and the one put in service this week were included in that project, Stridiron said. The Port Authority bought the baggage conveyor belts from Siemens, a long-established company not expected to go out of business, he said. When the old baggage conveyor belts began to fail, parts could not be found because the company had gone out of business, he said.
The $5.5 million in additional revenue anticipated under the extension will be used for more improvements to the passenger departure, inspection and screening areas, Stridiron said. The Port Authority plans to upgrade and expand the outgoing baggage system, the air-conditioning system, the electrical system and passenger waiting areas in the terminal.
The Port Authority plans to meet with airline representatives in early September to discuss the proposed extension of the passenger facility charge, Stridiron said. The application to the FAA will be made after that meeting.
Passenger facility charges are in place at most airports, Stridiron said. The Port Authority has implemented the charge intermittently since 1990 when the U.S. Congress passed the federal aviation safety and capacity extension act of 1990, allowing the charge.
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