PASS Statement on White House Proposal to Privatize the ATC System

President Donald Trump said Monday that the nation's air traffic control system needed a modern makeover and urged Congress to approve a privatization plan that he said would increase safety and reduce wait times for passengers.

Currently, air traffic control is handled by the FAA's more than 13,000 licensed controllers, who are located across the United States at regional control centers.

"Today we are taking the first important step to clearing the runway for more jobs, lower prices, and much much much better transportation", said Trump, pointing out that the USA pioneered air travel. "Committee Democrats are working on targeted reforms to help speed up the FAA's modernization efforts without privatizing the system".

"On the air traffic control system, the general aviation community, the small rural airports, the major carriers and the air traffic controller themselves all have to feel that they are, and need to be, involved in that discussion", Blunt told reporters Tuesday.

A letter to President Trump opposing the "Principles for Reforming the U.S. Air Traffic Control System" was signed by EAA and 15 other general aviation organizations. Air Traffic Controllers also seek to lock in higher wages and would potentially have the right to strike.

The White House also said that liberalising the air traffic control system would allow the country to move forward with technologies such as uncrewed aircraft. The new entity would be governed by a board of directors, including representatives for airlines, unions, airports and others.

Shuster's bill, which passed a House committee past year but didn't make it to the House floor, would convert the air traffic system from today's taxpayer-funded organization run by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) into a self-funded, nonprofit corporation where all aviation stakeholders - passengers, airlines, airports, controllers, and pilots - would be represented on a board of directors. His bill to privatize air traffic control died past year. "For the passengers, it's better they'll get from point to point faster, and the system would be safer", he said.

"But now we have a president who's all in, which makes all the difference in the world when you have presidential leadership on a topic like this", he said.

Winning congressional approval would still be an uphill battle for Trump.

So far, the person holding much of the power over the bill in the Senate, John Thune, the South Dakota Republican chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation committee, stopped short of endorsing the measure in an emailed statement Monday.

Airlines in the US have campaigned to separate the FAA. and ATC for two decades, but the proposal still has to pass muster with Democrats.

House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California pointed to past opposition from both parties to privatization plans, saying it would "hand control of one of our nation's most important public assets to special interests and the big airlines".