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Trump seeks to privatize US air traffic control system

Trump seeks to privatize US air traffic control system

President Trump held a press conference at the White House on Monday to roll out his plan to privatize the nation's air traffic system. "We will launch this air travel revolution by modernizing the outdated system of air traffic control".

Trump announced his plan to transfer authority over the air traffic control network from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to a private, non-profit entity - albeit under FAA supervision - the board of which would be comprised of airline, government and union personnel.

Still, several other countries (including Canada) have successfully privatized air traffic control responsibilities in the last few decades, though this would be by far the biggest changeover in size and scope.

"After billions and billions of tax dollars spent, and the many years of delays, we're still stuck with an ancient, broken, antiquated, disgusting system that doesn't work", Trump said.

The plan has drawn appraises from former transportation secretaries, who lauded the move as the "right solution for the 21st century". That effort picked up steam a year ago when the union that represents air traffic controllers agreed to support a proposal by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., to spin off air traffic operations into a private, nonprofit corporation.

Democrats in Congress also largely oppose the idea, as they believe that it will shift too much power over to the major airlines.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has already criticized the president, saying Trump's new infrastructure plan would leave the average American behind.

Steinberg admits that while the current ATC system is older and not always flawless, it keeps air travelers safe through some of the world's most complex air corridors in the U.S.




He said the FAA would still oversee airline safety.

USA airlines largely have supported the plan.

In an attempt to gain support for the plan, which fell short in Congress previous year, the White House said the corporation's board should be insulated from industry stakeholder groups.

The major domestic carriers all support the privatization plan, with the notable exception of Delta Air Lines.

In what he called an "air travel revolution", Trump promised the "really monumental reform" would deliver "cheaper, faster, and safer travel" as well as an economic boost that could be worth $25 billion to the economy.

Those pledges have been eclipsed by the political furor over Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 US election. His bill to privatize air traffic control died past year.

Opponents of the plan, including private pilots and small airports, are also concerned that high user fees will create an industry dominated by large airlines that can afford such costs, leaving small businesses and towns behind.


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