NBAA Chief: Don't Hand U.S. ATC Monopoly To Airlines

 - February 10, 2016, 9:54 AM

In testimony today before the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I), NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen warned that the creation of a privatized air traffic control system funded by user fees, as proposed in the FAA reauthorization bill (H.R.4441), would yield “unbridled authority” for the airlines.

“Our nation’s ATC system is a monopoly, and will always remain a monopoly,” he told the committee. “So the question on the table is who will control that monopoly—the public’s elected representatives or a board dominated by big airlines? H.R.4441 is proposing to give away our monopoly ATC system, free of charge, to the nation’s big airlines. That is a fundamentally flawed idea.”

He said that some have asked NBAA and others in general aviation what “protections” would be needed to prevent a system dominated by the airlines so that GA can go along with the plan. “The very question itself is a tacit acknowledgement that real dangers exist,” Bolen noted. “The turnover of our ATC monopoly to the airlines represents a serious threat to the future of general aviation, and the citizens, companies and communities that depend on it. It is a poison pill, and no sugar-coating can change that.”

Acknowledging that the “status quo is not acceptable” for U.S. air traffic modernization, Bolen said NBAA supports a “third way forward that would implement targeted solutions to identified problems to ensure America’s aviation system remains the world’s best in all aspects, for the next five years, 10 years, 25 years and beyond.”

Immediately after the release of H.R.4441 last week, NBAA issued a “Call to Action” encouraging those in the business aviation community to contact their members of Congress and “make their voices heard against ATC privatization.”