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Budget stalemate may mean lower air fares if ticket tax expires

December 31, 1995
Web posted at: 12:30 a.m. EST

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The federal budget impasse may mean cheaper air travel as air transportation excise taxes - including the 10 percent ticket tax - expire at midnight on December 31 unless a last day budget agreement between Congress and President Clinton is reached.

Delta Air Lines spokesperson Clay McConnell told CNN that Delta customers would see an immediate 10 percent windfall when they buy Delta domestic tickets starting New Year's Day.

McConnell suggested travelers should consider purchasing tickets early next week to take advantage of the tax expiration before Congress acts to reimpose it.

It was not immediately clear if all other airlines would follow Delta's lead and pass the tax break along to customers or would pocket it as their own windfall profit.

Spokespeople for United, U.S. Air and American Airlines told CNN they are prohibited from commenting on future fares because of a consent decree that settled an anti-trust lawsuit last year. They did however say their airlines would not collect any tax that was not authorized.

"We're going to be competitive," American Airlines spokesperson Tim Kincaid said.

Also expiring at midnight Sunday would be the $6 fee for travelers leaving on international trips and a 6.25 percent tax on air cargo, according to a FAA spokesman.  The taxes contribute $6 billion in revenue annually and fund airport construction, air traffic control costs and other federal aviation programs, according to a report in the Washington Post.

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