PHOTO: Some of the country’s mayors have an issue with privatizing air traffic control. (Photo courtesy of Thinkstock)
The Alliance for Aviation Across America on Monday released a letter to Congress from more than 115 Mayors in all 50 states expressing concern about the impact of air traffic control privatization on communities across the country, especially those in rural regions of the country.
The privatization of air traffic control has been a hot-button issue in each of the last two years as Congress wrestles with taking that aspect away from the Federal Aviation Administration and turning it over to private companies.
Yet, according to the Alliance and with the support of the mayors, the group wants to keep the status quo for the smaller area airports in the country.
They believe that privatizing air traffic control would jeopardize the interaction between local airports and general aviation with small businesses, farms, emergency responders and other critical services. The proposal, they say, is being pushed by big commercial airlines and would put this system under the purview of a private board of mostly commercial interests which would direct everything from taxes and fees, to airport investments and access.
READ MORE: New DOT Chief Open To Privatizing Air Traffic Control
Here is the full text of the letter:
“Dear Member of Congress:
As you debate reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), I write to ask you to reject any risky plans to privatize our air traffic control system and take away Congressional oversight of this important public system.
Over the last year, proposals have recently been forwarded to put this vital infrastructure under the control of a private entity dominated by the commercial airlines. On behalf of the tens of thousands of communities around the country, we are concerned about the very real and dire ramifications of eliminating Congressional oversight of this public air transportation infrastructure.
For tens of thousands of communities such as ours around the country, we depend on our local airport and all sectors of transportation to reach far-off markets and access critical services such as law enforcement, disaster relief, and medical care. Small aircraft and airports are utilized on a daily basis to help transport blood and organs to residents in rural communities, reunite veterans back from overseas with their families, maintain power lines, and help our companies reach customers in far-off markets, among many other priorities.
Privatization would hand over decisions about infrastructure funding, taxes and fees, consumer complaints, noise, and many other priorities, to a board of private interests dominated by the commercial airlines. These are the same airlines that have cut back flights to smaller communities by more than 20 percent in recent years and have stated their intent to divert investment from small and mid-sized communities to large ones where the airlines are most profitable.
We are also concerned about costs and access. For example, the Canadian, privatized system, which is often held up as the system the U.S. should emulate, is more expensive than the system we have in the US by miles flown. In the U.K., that system has seen "more delays, higher fares and reduced connectivity" at London's airports since privatization. So while we all agree that modernizing our air traffic control system and investing in American infrastructure should be among our highest priorities, privatization is not the answer,
We look forward to working with you throughout this process to ensure that our air transportation system protects communities of all sizes and keeps passengers flying safely and efficiently.”