LOS ANGELES: Southwest Airlines Co. and six other carriers filed a complaint with the federal government about higher fees at Los Angeles International Airport, saying they may cut passengers’ airline choices and increase fares.
The terminal fees, imposed 1 February on carriers operating from terminals 1 and 3, are expected to cost the airlines about $56 million in the first year, compared with $20 million before the increase, the carriers said in a statement. A joint complaint was lodged with the US Transportation Department.
The carriers are charged 12 times more a square foot than their competitors in other terminals, the statement said. The airlines are Southwest, AirTran Holdings Inc’s AirTran Airways, Alaska Air Group Inc’s Alaska Airlines, ATA Holdings Corporation’s ATA Airlines, Frontier Airlines Holdings Inc, Midwest Air Group Inc’s Midwest Airlines and US Airways Group Inc.
“We’re not opposed to increases, because increases happen when there need to be improvements to the terminal,” Southwest spokeswoman Whitney Eichinger said in a telephone interview. “It’s just making sure that they’re fair and balanced and not so high.”
The airlines said the airport, which receives federal funds, is discriminating against carriers with expired terminal leases by increasing rates, while airlines with another 15 to 20 years on their leases pay less.
All the airlines had airport lease agreements expired between May 2001 and August 2004 and have been operating without leases since, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), the city agency that operates the airport, said in a statement. The complaint “seeks to continue to force LAWA to subsidize their operations at LAX in order to boost their bottom lines,” the agency said.
Almost half of the 83% increase in fees per passenger will pay for security costs that have risen since the 11 September 2001, terrorist attacks, the agency said.