Trump pushes for privatizing U.S. air traffic control

Owen Stevens
June 6, 2017

President Donald Trump announces on Monday, June 5, 2017, his plans to privatize the nation's air traffic control system, arguing that it is thebest way to modernize the system.

"Our air traffic control is stuck, painfully, in the past", Trump said, decrying the "ancient, broken, antiquated, frightful system that doesn't work".

Later this week Trump is expected to travel to OH to garner support for his strategy - a key campaign promise - to channel $1 trillion into the nation's roads, bridges, inland waterways and other public facilities.

Trump said current air traffic reform efforts have failed and were a "total waste of money".

"We can not modernize one aspect of our aviation system and settle for the status quo for another, especially the foundation on which our aviation system is built", he said in a news release.

Trump cast the decision as a a step that will ultimately lead benefit travelers.

"We're proposing to take American air travel into the future, finally", Mr Trump said.

However, opponents caution that the proposal, which would require congressional approval, will give too much power to the aviation industries.

Opposition has come also from top Democratic lawmakers, including ranking member of the US Senate Commerce Committee Bill Nelson and ranking member of the House Transportation Committee Peter DeFazio. "This new entity will be a nonprofit, coop organization where all surpluses will be reinvested in the system". Some politically influential business aircraft operators, private pilots, small aircraft manufacturers and medium- and small-sized airports fear airlines will dominate the corporation's board, resulting in higher fees for them and less service.

At a meeting with reporters, White House officials said that the initiative will create a more efficient system. "So part of what we are trying to do is put on increased accountability on to an entity that is not subject to varying appropriations and potential government shutdowns, that's not subject to government procurement rules and allows for greater partnership between air traffic controllers and the developers of technology so this technology is addressing directly what the controllers need". "The idea that we would take the safest system in the world and the most complicated, and suddenly privatize it, that's insane", he said. But oversight of air traffic management and the almost 30,000 workers in that area would go to a private not-for-profit organisation.

The President railed against previous efforts by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to upgrade air traffic control and offered few other details about his promised $1tn infrastructure programme, The Guardian reports. Then, last year, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. Bill Shuster, a Republican from Pennsylvania, introduced a bill that would have privatized air traffic control. And that concerns Democratic Congressman Peter DeFazio of OR, ranking member of the House Transportation Committee.

Booth said the FAA's system is very safe, and the agency has spent billions updating its technology. The US is nearing a growth rate of one billion passengers annually, with the sector costing the economy almost $25 billion a year.

This board will include "13 members: Two would represent the airlines, two would represent unions, one would represent general aviation, one would represent airports and two would represent the government as a whole".

The president is proposing a private, non-profit company take-over of air traffic control over the course of the next three years. Air traffic controllers will have "more financial security, professional opportunities, and far superior equipment, the best equipment in the world". The FAA is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Mr. Trump will continue to unveil new infrastructure plans, traveling to OH and Kentucky on Wednesday to discuss waterway improvements.

Other reports by VgToday

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