WASHINGTON, June 5, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today President Trump welcomes to the White House CEOs of the biggest U.S. airlines to endorse creation of an airline controlled corporate monopoly to take over the nation's air traffic control system from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). FlyersRights.org, the largest airline passenger organization, expressed its shock and dismay.
Paul Hudson, group president and longtime member of the FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee, stated, "Adopting this scheme would mean handing the airlines (for free) control over a core public asset, and providing them nearly unbridled power to extract new fees and increased taxes from passengers."
Kate Hanni, FlyersRights.org founder, expressed her dismay, "This unfortunately provides another political handout to a highly-concentrated industry with a terrible track record of leaving passengers on the tarmac for hours without food and water, cramming paying customers into inhumane seats, and verbally and physically assaulting them all while charging for everything under the sun."
The FAA recently stated that air traffic control modernization is on track and will be completed by 2020. At a recent hearing by the House Transportation Committee it was revealed that airlines are holding up implementation by failing to invest in equipment on their aircraft to handle the new air traffic control system. This privatization proposal would likely disrupt air traffic control modernization, remove most Congressional oversight, create a new corporate monopoly with the power to tax consumers. Other nations that have privatized air traffic control have had to bail them out to prevent bankruptcy. Air Traffic Controllers also seek to lock in higher wages and would potentially have the right to strike.
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. In fact, airline-caused issues from broken planes, late crews and other glitches accounted for most delays, more than weather and air traffic control combined. If the airlines are not effectively investing in upgrading and modernizing their own systems, how can they possibly be trusted with oversight of air traffic control?
President Trump and Congress should work instead on long-term investment to improve air travel with measures that include construction of two new airports for New York City and Chicago to relieve the main cause of congestion delays, repeal of regulations and laws that prevent airline competition and block public private partnerships for airport ownership, support and construction. The side show of air traffic control privatization would do nothing to alleviate delays or resolve the issues that plague customers on a daily basis.
FlyersRights.org is the largest nonprofit airline passenger rights organization in the US. It operates a hotline for passengers at 877-FLYERS6, publishes a weekly newsletter, serves on the FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee and maintains an office in Washington D.C. for public education and advocacy. See www.flyersrights.org.