Airlines seek court review of higher U.S. fee on plane tickets
July 30 (Reuters) - Two airline trade groups asked a U.S. appeals court on Wednesday to review fee increases on airplane tickets imposed by the Transportation Security Administration, saying the agency is "improperly" raising taxes on travelers and hurting carriers.
The petition, filed in federal court for the District of Columbia, concerns the TSA passenger security fee charged since 2001. Under a new structure put in place by the U.S. budget agreement passed last December, the fee rose from $2.50 per leg of a trip up to a maximum of $5 one way, to a flat fee of $5.60 for a one way.
Flights with layovers that are longer than four hours incur additional charges of $5.60 per leg, based on the TSA changes.
Airlines for America - which represents U.S. carriers including Delta Air Lines Inc and American Airlines Group Inc - and the International Air Transport Association with 240 member airlines worldwide, said in a joint petition the TSA was disregarding the maximum cap and charging more fees than it should.
It was also wrongfully collecting the tax on the domestic legs of trips that start outside the United States, contrary to the intentions of lawmakers under the budget act.
The airlines said one multi-stop flight example published by the TSA showed taxes amounting to $33.60, or three times as much as the limit intended by lawmakers.
"TSA's decision to abandon the round-trip cap clearly subverts demonstrable legislative intent and is contrary to common sense and any realistic assessment of Congress' carefully targeted amendments to the passenger fee," the petition states.
The trade groups asked for a review of the final rule outlining the fee changes.
TSA spokesman Ross Feinstein said the agency did not comment on pending litigation.
(Reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta. Editing by Andre Grenon)