The White House Wants To Privatize Air Traffic Control

The president has also endorsed a proposal to privatize the US air traffic control (ATC) network.

"This would benefit the flying public and taxpayers overall", it says. "This budget takes the next step in what our committee produced previous year. The president's budget rejects adherence to the status quo and I applaud his leadership to disrupt the old way of thinking". This budget takes the next step in what our committee produced previous year - separating the air traffic control function from the federal government and establishing an independent, not-for-profit organization to provide this service.

The administration's proposal is all but certain to be substantially different from the final budget that will be presented to Trump by Congress.

The House Transportation Committee's ranking Democrat, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), decried the Trump administration's "Skinny Budget", on several counts, starting with what critics of the ATC spin-off describe as a "privatization" of the system that favors the airlines. The FAA would continue to oversee safety and set aviation regulations.

It's an item addressed in the president's 2018 budget blueprint and one most major airlines have wanted for a while.

Meanwhile, consumer groups say that privatization would give airlines too much control of ATC.

Representative Bill Shuster, a Republican who chairs the House Transportation Committee and backs separate air traffic control, praised Trump's proposal.

The FAA said in a statement that it welcomes a discussion about the best way to deliver and modernize air traffic services.

The Government Accountability Office said in a 2016 report that the United States "is generally considered to have the busiest, most complex and safest ATC system in the world". "EAS flights are not full and have high subsidy costs per passenger", the Trump budget blueprint stated.

National Business Aviation Association CEO Ed Bolen said the group strongly opposes the proposal, arguing airlines would essentially take run the board.

President Trump wants to increase the 9/11 Passenger Security Fee now assessed to all airline tickets, which helps fund the Transportation Security Administration, from $5.60 to $6.60 for each leg of a flight out of US airports. The president has repeatedly called for measures to make government more efficient and effective, and Trump has called for $1 trillion in infrastructure investments.

The proposal says $80 million could be saved by cutting grants that pay for police officers in airports, eliminating a program that sends uniformed armed officers to sweep public facilities, and ending training for Transportation Security Administration officers in how to recognize unusual passenger behavior.

  • Carolyn Briggs