Trump announces Air Traffic Control Reform Initiative

Olive Rios
June 5, 2017

President Trump announced Monday a plan to privatize the nation's air traffic control system - a move that would remove the job of tracking and guiding airplanes from the purview of the Federal Aviation Administration.

The nation's air traffic control system was designed when far fewer people flew, Trump said, calling it "stuck, painfully, in the past". It is well past time for this concept to be implemented.

Privatization of the air traffic control system has been supported by CAGW since the Grace Commission included such a recommendation in its final report to President Reagan in 1984.

The move would separate 30,000 FAA workers from the government - made up of 14,000 air traffic controllers and more than 16,000 working on the NextGen programme.

"It's time to join the future", says Trump on ATC reform.

Executives from United Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, which are all represented by Airlines for America, attended the Trump speech. However, the nonprofit advocacy group Flyers' Rights called it an "airline-controlled corporate monopoly" and said it would hand the airlines control over a core public asset and give them "nearly unbridled power to extract new fees and increased taxes from passengers". Trump's budget plan released earlier this year called for the changes, placing air traffic operations under an "independent, non-governmental organization". Even under a congressional privatization plan, the FAA would continue to provide safety oversight of the system.

White House officials said the new entity would be overseen by a 13-member board that will include members from the airline industry, unions, general aviation, airports and other stakeholders.

The Federal Aviation Administration spends almost $10 billion a year on air traffic control funded largely through passenger user fees, and has about 28,000 air traffic control personnel. It comes as his agenda has struggled in Congress and been overshadowed by White House controversies.

Later in the week, Trump is scheduled to travel to the state of OH to discuss improvements to levees, dams and locks that are key to agriculture shipping.

Those pledges have been eclipsed by the political furor over Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 USA election. That drama will come to a head on Thursday when former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey, who was leading the Russian Federation probe until Trump fired him, testifies before a U.S. Senate panel. They will give Trump the opportunity to provide some counterprogramming to the drumbeat of Russian Federation news.

USA airlines have been campaigning for more than two decades to separate air traffic control operations from the FAA.

Opponents, including Delta Air Lines, say the US system is so large that privatization would not save money, and would drive up ticket costs and could create a national security risk. There also are concerns that airlines would dominate the private-company board and limit access to airports by business jets. Most airlines back the plan. "After billions and billions of tax dollars spent and many years of delays, we are still stuck with an ancient, broken, antiquated disgusting system that doesn't work", Trump said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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