The $2.50 fee collected from airline passengers for each leg of their flights may not be ending up where it’s supposed to—at the government agency in charge of airline security.
The Homeland Security Department’s inspector general reported Wednesday that airlines are underpaying the Transportation Security Administration an estimated $14.5 million every year in passenger security fees.
The fees were imposed after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, when the TSA was created to take over responsibility for security from the airlines. Passengers pay a maximum $10 per round trip to help pay for security screening at airports.
“TSA needs to provide closer oversight of the air carriers to ensure proper collection and remittance of passenger security fees,” said the report, which was signed by Inspector General Richard Skinner.
The agency agreed and said it will make sure the airlines are audited to make sure they pay what they owe.
Another fee, which airlines pay the government to cover the costs of security infrastructure, weren’t calculated fairly or accurately, according to the report.
Air carriers were underreporting what they owed, the report said.
The inspector general recommended that TSA determine a “fair and reasonable” amount and collect the fees. The TSA said it had done so.
The Air Transport Association, which represents large airlines, said the inspector general agreed with what air carriers have been saying all along.
“While we do not dispute the right to collect, we fundamentally disagree with TSAs implementation,” the ATA said in a statement. “We look forward to this matter being resolved either before the agency or in the courts.”