Coast airport looking to increase passenger fee

GULFPORT — Officials with Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport are seeking local support for an increase in a passenger fee that they say now is too low to help payoff debt.

The Sun Herald reports airport officials are pushing to increase the Passenger Facility Charge from $4.50 to $7 per passenger. The fee hasn’t been raised since 2000.

Airport executive director Bruce Frallic met Monday with the Harrison County Board of Supervisors. He was to meet today with the Gulfport City Council and Feb. 15 with the Biloxi City Council.

Frallic said the number of passengers has been down since Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005 and the current fee isn’t generating enough money to pay the debt service.

The airlines collect the fee and give the money to the airport, which puts it in a trust fund to pay the debt service. Cy Faneca, attorney for the airport authority, said only people who fly will pay it.

Supervisors voted 4-1 to support the increase. Supervisor Marlin Ladner said he could not vote for the increase.

If Congress approves the increase, Frallic said the airport will have to complete an application with the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as meet with representatives from the airlines before the fee could be assessed to passengers.

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