Trump outlines privatizing air traffic control

President Donald Trump next week will give Congress a proposal seeking to privatize the nation's air traffic control system to kickstart a weeklong effort to ramp up support for his $1 trillion infrastructure initiative, his chief economic adviser said. Joining him in the East Room were airline industry executives, union members and a pair of former transportation secretaries: Elizabeth Dole and Mary Peters. "Americans can look forward to cheaper, faster and safer travel". The plan, she said, "threatens passenger safety, undermines the FAA's ongoing modernization, jeopardizes access to rural airports and adds to the deficit".

White House officials said the President will urge Congress to take swift action to privatize air traffic control and separate it from the Federal Aviation Administration, the Washington Post reports. The aviation taxes should be sunset, except for those necessary to fund the Airport Improvement Program, according to the White House.

Our associations represent the individuals and companies that make up a significant portion of the diverse and interrelated general aviation industry in the United States. The corporation would also require user fees, which would be more hard for the general aviation community (i.e., private pilots) plus the smaller airlines and airports to cope with. "Users should have input in the fees and their structure..."

Until this week, key US senators - including Republicans Jerry Moran of Kansas and and John Thune of South Dakota and Democrats Bill Nelson of Florida and Peter DeFazio of OR - opposed proposals to privatize parts of the FAA.

The new nonprofit would be funded through a series of user-based fees that would take the place of tax-based revenue used now to fund air traffic control operations. This will replace the aviation taxes that now cover these costs.

"I think it's a common sense solution to an issue that we have in getting the FAA modernized, but you know how things go in Washington, things that seem like they ought to be easy aren't always", Farenthold says.

The proposal would seek to honor existing labor agreements and maintain the ban on controller strikes. Founded in 1846, AP has covered all the major news events of the past 165 years, providing high-quality, informed reporting of everything from wars and elections to championship games and royal weddings. All the assets owned by the FAA would be transferred at no charge. These eight members would, along with the CEO, select four additional independent members.

While U.S. air travel operations are among the safest in the world, American air traffic controllers still rely on a communication system that includes paper strips. "After billions and billions of tax dollars spent and many years of delays, we are still stuck with an ancient, broken, antiquated frightful system that doesn't work", Trump said.

But Democrats have signaled increasing unwillingness to work with the administration, citing not only the scandals and its general combativeness, but also its reliance on private or public-private partnerships for funding for numerous infrastructure proposals.

"We live in a modern age yet our air traffic control system is stuck, painfully, in the past", Trump said, noting the FAA had been working to upgrade the system for years. "As the air traffic debate continues, we are also concerned about the impact of these proposed reforms on general aviation based on what we have seen in other countries".

What are the main criticisms of Trump's proposal?

FAA air traffic controllers manage more than 50,000 flights per day. "NATCA shares the Administration's commitments to infrastructure modernization and providing the National Airspace System (NAS) with a stable, predictable funding stream", said NATCA president Paul Rinaldi.

Airlines are probably the least capable industry to run air traffic control given that they can barely get through a week without a massive customer relations incident or technological meltdown.

Rinaldi told the congressional committee that the NATCA supported a 2016 bill called the Aviation Innovation, Reform and Reauthorization Act that bore similarities to Trump's proposal.


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