*The following is a guest blog post by Ann Brennan, executive vice president of GBTA – Wisconsin*
This past August, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and the Wisconsin Business Travel Association hosted our first ever, “Travel Talk Roundtable” with U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Senator Johnson’s Committee has jurisdiction over the Department of Homeland Security, the principal department responsible for immigration, counterterrorism, and border security. Many of the issues before Senator Johnson’s Committee are key priorities for the business travel community. We were joined by GBTA Executive Director Mike McCormick and Vice President for Government Relations Andrew Meehan.
Wisconsin BTA members shared the business travel community’s concerns, including cost containment, traveler security, duty of care, and air traffic control reform.
Senator Johnson delivered remarks on a broad range of issues including aviation security and the importance of effective engagement on Capitol Hill. He also noted the change in threats to aviation security and the challenges posed by ISIS. Senator Johnson believes that the best thing Congress can do is to provide a secure homeland and grow the economy.
The group also discussed a bill passed in late July that would increase the cap on the Passenger Facility Charge from $4.50 to $8.50. The Passenger Facility Charge is a fee that consumers pay when they purchase airlines tickets. GBTA has expressed concern that taxes and fees currently comprise nearly 25% of the cost of airline tickets. The proposed increase would result in a $3.2 billion tax hike on travelers.
WI BTA members also raised the issue of air traffic control reform. GBTA supports a House bill (H.R. 2997) that would reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and move air traffic control operations out of the federal government and into a not-for-profit entity. Senator Johnson expressed an understanding of the cost and efficiency concerns with the status quo.
Wisconsin BTA looks forward to inviting our elected officials to our annual Travel Conference in January.