National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen issued comments strongly opposing the Trump administration’s budget, which appears to endorse privatizing the nation’s air traffic control (ATC) system, noting that such a move could adversely affect, among others, countless small and mid-size communities across the U.S., which rely on general aviation.
“We know that the notion of privatizing ATC has for decades been pushed by large airlines,” Bolen said. “Under such a proposal, the ATC system – which is a natural monopoly that currently serves the public’s interest, and is overseen by the public’s elected representatives – would be turned over to a non-governmental entity effectively controlled by the airlines.
“Under such a scenario, the small and mid-size towns that rely on access to general aviation for everything from civil services, to emergency support, to business access and more, could have their access to airports and airspace threatened,” Bolen continued. “This is among the many important reasons NBAA has long been very concerned over the big airlines’ proposal. Simply put, privatization of the ATC system would benefit commercial airlines at the expense of the citizens, companies and communities that rely general aviation.
“We continue to welcome the renewed focus in Washington on infrastructure investment, including for aviation,” Bolen added. “We will keep working with Congress, not on a distracting debate over ATC privatization, but on truly modernizing the aviation system, with policies that offer targeted solutions to identified challenges. That’s the best way to ensure that all Americans have access to our nation’s critical aviation infrastructure, five, 10 and 25 years from now.”
The idea of privatizing ATC has been put forward as part of the continuing congressional debate over the reauthorization of funding and programs for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The concept has been strongly opposed by a diverse group of conservative and liberal think tanks, consumer groups, rural organizations, general aviation associations, federal and local policymakers and a majority of American citizens.
The budget proposal released by the president today is the administration’s blueprint for federal spending in the coming fiscal year. Congress has the ultimate authority on the budget, and will reflect its direction regarding aviation, and other matters related to the nation’s infrastructure.