Trump Moves to Privatize Air Traffic Control System

by Wade Massey June 6, 2017, 5:50

As for infrastructure, moving air-traffic control out of the Federal Aviation Administration has been debated periodically since the 1990s, but never approved by Congress. Trump's proposal would be modeled on Canada's system, which is run a private board of industry stakeholders rather than the government. It takes the shape of a previous proposal from Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), who chairs the House transportation committee, which would create a private nongovernmental corporation to manage air traffic control nationwide. "If we adopt these changes, Americans can look forward to cheaper, faster, and safer travel, a future where 20 percent of a ticket price doesn't go to the government, and where you don't have to sit on a tarmac or circle for hours and hours over an airport, which is very risky also, before you land", he said.

The FAA has worked to upgrade its system, but Trump and other critics say it was taking far too long. The FAA would still provide safety oversight. "Many controllers must use slips of paper to track our thousands and thousands of flights". Most Democrats and appropriations leaders on both side of the aisle have been vocal opponents to removing ATC from congressional purview.

"The current system cannot keep up and hasn't been able to keep up for many years", Trump said.

"Honestly, they didn't know what the hell they were doing", Trump said, according to NPR.

Trump is laying out his plans as part of a larger focus on improving the country's infrastructure.

The union representing the air traffic control workers said in a statement that they will review the details of the proposal before deciding to support the plan or not.

This plan is part of Trump's broader infrastructure vision.

"We live in a modern age, but our air traffic control system is stuck, painfully, in the past", he said at a White House event attended by current and former transportation department officials.

Compass Point Research's Isaac Boltanksy in a note on Monday said he remains bearish about Trump's $1 trillion infrastructure push, but he still sees a "path to modest infrastructure spending increases in this Congress".

"But after billions and billions of tax dollars spent and the many years of delays, we're still stuck with an ancient, broken, antiquated, disgusting system that doesn't work".

Air traffic control will answer to a nonprofit board that would include representatives from airlines, labor unions, general aviation trade groups and airports.

The reform proposal itself is hardly new-it has been kicking around well before the last presidential election. Referencing one in particular, but not naming the country, he said the USA system under this plan will be better.

The new corporation would pay for itself through user fees for airlines and "reasonable" fees passed on to passengers, the administration said.

Opponents, including Delta Air Lines (DAL.N), say the USA system is so large that privatization would not save money, and would drive up ticket costs and could create a national security risk.

"Our plan will get you where you need to go more quickly, more reliably, more affordable, and yes, for the first time in a long time, on time", Trump said in announcing the plan at the White House.

But the idea is still likely to face fierce opposition from Democrats, GOP tax-writers and appropriators, who worry about handing over the power to collect fees to a nongovernmental agency. He also called the system "ancient, broken, antiquated" and "horrible". The 30,000 air traffic control employees would be removed from the government's payroll. His executive memos, or whatever the hell you wish to call them, privatizing the nation's Air Traffic Control System are as valid as a Trump University diploma.

"The FAA has been trying to upgrade our nation's air traffic control system for a long period of years, but after billions and billions of tax dollars spent and the many years of delays, we are still stuck with an ancient, broken, antiquated, disgusting system that doesn't work".

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