Trump Announces Plan To Privatize Air Traffic Control

Trump Announces Plan To Privatize Air Traffic Control

Andrew Cummings
June 20, 2017

President Trump today announced plans to take the system out of the government's hands and make it private.

During a ceremony at the White House, President Trump said, "Our air traffic control system is stuck, painfully, in the past".

The organisation, which supported a similar proposal a year ago, said it believes more reliable funding streams are critical, but wants to see "specifics".

The President says the overhaul would improve customer service by reducing costs, wait times and technology.

Potentially privatizing air traffic control in the U.S. is more about politics.

He said the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which now tracks air traffic is outdated and inefficient.

Southwest chief Gary Kelly sparked that conversation at a White House meeting, bemoaning an aging system that contributes to congestion at major airports. Trump's budget plan released earlier this year called for the changes, placing air traffic operations under an "independent, non-governmental organization".

Nationwide, there are about 50,000 airline and other aircraft flights a day. The safest airline system in the world.

"NATCA shares the Administration's commitments to infrastructure modernization and providing the National Airspace System with a stable, predictable funding stream", said Paul Rinaldi, the union president. "Honestly, they didn't know what the hell they were doing", Trump said.

He said the FAA would still oversee airline safety.

Trump has been critical in the past of the FAA and air traffic control, saying his personal pilot has complained about how out of date and inefficient the agency is. The new system would move from radar and voice communications to satellite and digital communications called NextGen. It also says privatizing air traffic control amounts to "handing the airlines (for free) control over a core public asset, and providing them almost unbridled power to extract new fees and increased taxes from passengers". As a result, the FAA has had difficulty making long-term commitments with contractors.

Cleveland's Air Route Traffic Control Center, located in Oberlin, is the third busiest in the nation. So far, Trump has only sent a plan to Congress, so the debate between the two sides will begin soon. The new entity would be governed by a board of directors, including representatives for airlines, unions, airports and others.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that Trump was recycling "a exhausted Republican plan that both sides of the aisle have rejected" and would "hand control of one of our nation's most important public assets to special interests and the big airlines".

Some Republican and Democratic members of Congress have criticized the plan in the past, fearing that US airlines would prioritize their own interests over those of air traffic facilities and their 30,000 employees nation-wide, the Associated Press reported.

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