For immediate release
July 19, 2018
New report by UNITE HERE finds that as Virginia commuters pay higher tolls to fund transit projects that benefit United Airlines, the airline receives millions in state tax-breaks.
ASHBURN, VA — During the final public hearing regarding the planned 2019 toll increase on the Dulles Toll Road today, UNITE HERE released a new report highlighting how the Silver Line Project that the tolls help fund will benefit United Airlines, and how the airline could pay its fair share. While the hearing took place, commuters held signs outside and launched a petition demanding United Airlines pay its fair share of the Silver Line.
The Metro Silver Line Project is a 23-mile extension of the Washington Metro System that will provide single-seat mass transit from downtown Washington to Dulles International Airport, a growing United hub airport.
The Silver Line will play an integral part in the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority’s plan to redirect more of the Washington consumer air traffic market through Dulles. Consequently, the $5.8 billion Silver Line Project will be a major boon to United Airlines, Dulles’ dominant carrier.
Capturing just an additional 1% of the D.C. region’s passenger airline market would mean an estimated additional $66 million a year for United Airlines. UNITE HERE’s report explains how it came up with that estimate.
Yet, Virginia commuters are being asked to pay more for the project, with a new round of Dulles Toll Road price hikes for 2019 looming. While costs for commuters rise to finance a project to United’s benefit, the airline continues to benefit from declining costs and millions each year in state tax breaks on jet fuel.
To establish a more appropriate funding balance, the report advocates that Virginia should end United’s jet fuel tax breaks and direct that revenue towards the Silver Line Project.