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Wednesday, May 27, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane International Airport board plans to extend timeframe to collect passenger facility charges

A passenger pushes their luggage through baggage claim at Termininal C at Spokane International Airport on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019. For the first time, in-person interviews for the “global entry” program will be held in Spokane for the program. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
A passenger pushes their luggage through baggage claim at Termininal C at Spokane International Airport on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019. For the first time, in-person interviews for the “global entry” program will be held in Spokane for the program. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

The Spokane International Airport board is planning to submit a proposal to the Federal Aviation Administration that, if approved, will extend the length of time it can collect passenger facility charges for several projects.

The airport board is asking the FAA to approve collection and use of an additional $12 million in passenger facility charges through 2021 for snow removal equipment, terminal rehabilitation and replacement of elevators, flight information displays, announcement systems and programmable logic controls of passenger boarding bridges.

The passenger facility charges were also allocated for the 30% design phase for the airport’s proposed terminal renovation and expansion, or TREX, project, which is anticipated to be complete by 2023.

The board received FAA approval in 2017 to impose and use more than $32 million in passenger facility charges – a $4.50 per flight fee it collects from passengers – for the projects.

The airport is revising the passenger facility charge collection amount to account for higher design and construction costs now that projects are complete or have been awarded contracts.

The airport’s security upgrades project, which includes airfield perimeter security improvements as well as upgrades to the baggage, information display and flight announcement systems, was initially estimated to cost $3.5 million when it was announced in 2014.

The cost has now increased to $7.7 million.

“That was the biggest driver of the increase,” said Todd Woodard, spokesman for the Spokane International Airport. “Nearly six years have gone by. Technology has changed, and the cost has changed.”

The airport board’s proposal to extend the timeframe on collecting passenger facility charges for projects wouldn’t impact the proposed $144 million TREX project, which calls for a centralized security checkpoint for passengers to travel between terminals, three additional gates at the Alaska Airlines terminal and expansion of existing baggage claim areas.

TREX would be funded through a combination of bonds, grant funds, and airport and passenger facility charge revenue.

Congress is contemplating changes to the passenger facility charge as airports nationwide are actively lobbying lawmakers to increase the fee to support projects.

Spokane International Airport CEO Larry Krauter testified before the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure in March, asking lawmakers to raise the cap on the passenger facility charge from $4.50 to $8.50, stating its purchase power is half of what it was when the fee was adjusted by Congress in 2000.

The board is considering a scaled down design for TREX after it was deemed too expensive because of the federally imposed cap on the passenger facility charge used to fund FAA-approved projects.

The airport plans to submit its proposal to amend passenger facility charges to the FAA on Nov. 11. The federal agency is expected to make a decision on the amendment by Dec. 10.

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