Republican U.S. Senator Jerry Moran visited Wichita Friday to bring attention to what he calls a “damaging” proposal to privatize air traffic control operations.
As part of its wide-ranging infrastructure initiative, the Trump administration wants to set up a nonprofit corporation run by a 13-person board to oversee air traffic services at airports across the country. A House bill outlines its plan to transfer operations from the Federal Aviation Administration to the nonprofit; an FAA reauthorization bill in the Senate doesn’t mention the president's plan.
Speaking with members of the general aviation industry at Dwight D. Eisenhower National airport, Moran said under the plan, resources would go toward higher-traffic airports.
"When the issue becomes volume, those of us who live anyplace but the largest cities with the largest airports, we’re, in my view, going to be at a disadvantage," he says. "This is terribly damaging to all but the largest airports, the largest communities in the country."
The House introduced a similar plan last year, but Moran says it "bogged down" the FAA reauthorization process. Eventually Congress reauthorized the agency without the privatization plan, only through September 2017.
He says now that the Trump administration is in favor of privatizing air traffic control, it could make opposition more difficult.
"Privatization sounds good, and particularly for Republicans, privatization seems like it would be something that we would be for, but in this case and others, privatization is not a cure-all," he says.
Victor White, director of Eisenhower Airport, sent Moran and other Congressional representatives a letter opposing the plan. White says the current air traffic control system needs to be upgraded and modernized, but privatization would “jeopardize jobs and economic activity in Wichita.”
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