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Court Upholds TSA Calculation of Airline Security Fees

On July 1, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) calculation of fees imposed on airlines for screening passengers and property.  By law, TSA is prohibited from charging airlines more than the airlines paid for security in the year 2000.  In 2009, the D.C. Circuit remanded TSA’s calculation of the airline security fee because TSA’s formula failed to exclude the cost of screening non-passengers.  In the most recent decision (Southwest Airlines v. TSA, Case No. 10-1227), the court denied the airlines’ petition for review, based largely on the court’s deference to the calculation prepared by TSA’s consultant over the calculation prepared by the airlines’ consultant.  TSA’s consultant found that the cost of screening passengers and property in 2000 was approximately $420 million.