Trump’s plan calls for privatizing air traffic control operations
washington» President Donald Trump is calling for privatizing the nation’s air traffic control operations in his budget proposal, a top priority of the airline industry.
The proposal says spinning off air traffic operations from the Federal Aviation Administration and placing them under an “independent, non-governmental organization” would make the system “more efficient and innovative while maintaining safety.”
There are about 50,000 airline and other aircraft flights a day in the United States. Both sides of the privatization debate say the system is one of the most complex and safest in the world. The FAA would continue to provide safety oversight of the system under a congressional privatization plan.
Airlines have been lobbying vigorously for the change, saying the FAA’s NextGen program to modernize the air traffic system is taking too long and has produced too few benefits. Industry officials say that privatization would remove air traffic operations from the uncertainties of the annual congressional budget process, which have hindered the FAA’s ability to make long-term procurement commitments.
“Our system is safe, but it is outdated and not as efficient as it should or could be,” said Nick Calio, president of Airlines for America.
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association, the union that represents the FAA’s 14,000 controllers, backed an unsuccessful congressional attempt at privatization last year. The union said it will evaluate Trump’s plan. Union officials have complained that the FAA has been unable to resolve chronic controller understaffing at some of the nation’s busiest facilities, and they say they’ve become
Subsidies for rural airline service would be discontinued. President Donald
Trump called for eliminating subsidized air service to rural communities, many of which supported his election after he promised to create jobs.
Trump’s proposal would sever an economic lifeline that enables rural communities to attract and keep businesses and jobs. The program has long been a target of conservatives who say the subsidies are too expensive for the relatively small number of passengers served. Elimination of the program would save about $175 million a year, according to the Trump administration.
“We do appreciate running government as efficiently as possible. Those are our values ... (but) I would argue that this program is vital for rural America,” said Laurie Gill, the Republican mayor of Pierre, S.D.
Three post-9/11 airport security programs would be ended. The Trump
administration wants to eliminate three airport security programs put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The proposal says that $80 million could be saved by cutting grants that pay for local police in airports, eliminating a program that sends uniformed armed officers to sweep public facilities and ending the training for Transportation Security Administration officers in how to recognize unusual passenger behavior. discouraged by the modernization effort’s slow progress.
Opponents say the process of transferring air traffic control operations from the FAA to a corporation could take years and be disruptive.