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WHITE HOUSE AIMS TO BOOST TAX BURDEN FOR AIRLINE FLIGHTS

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The Bush administration is asking Congress to raise taxes on aviation fuel and airline tickets and allow a new airport tax as part of a five-year plan for commercial aviation.

Transportation Secretary Samuel Skinner included the $22 billion proposal in the Federal Aviation Administration's reauthorization bill sent to Congress on Monday.The plan would add up to $12 in airport fees to a round-trip airline ticket, increase the tax on tickets from 8 percent to 10 percent and hike aviation fuel taxes by 25 percent, which also likely would be passed along in higher fares. Congress is likely to make modifications, however.

It is the first proposal arising out of the administration's new national transportation policy, which calls for travelers to finance a greater share of national transportation systems.

The administration makes a distinction between "user fees" and taxes, which President Bush has promised not to increase. Skinner acknowledged last week, however, that transportation budget proposals include boosts in both local and federal levies.

The increases would add to an aviation trust fund that the FAA proposes to tap for 85 percent of aeronautical needs through fiscal 1995. Currently, 57 percent of federal aviation costs are covered by users via the tax-fed trust fund, with the remainder from general tax revenue.

The maximum initial airport tax would be $3 per departure, with travelers who make connecting flights paying at no more than one additional airport each way. The legislation would give the transportation secretary power to increase the maximum tax after fiscal 1991.