It’s been weeks since the so-called privatization of air traffic control (ATC) was removed from the House FAA reauthorization proposal, but The Washington Post is still mourning its loss. A May 3 editorial calls the exclusion of so-called privatization in the recently passed FAA funding bill “depressing.” AOPA and NBAA responded with a joint letter setting the record straight regarding why handing ATC to the airlines is bad idea.
The Washington Post editorial blamed the corporate-jet and private-airplane lobbies for the pushback on the proposed legislation, but when it comes to the facts, the editorial got it wrong.
In the letter, AOPA and NBAA wrote that the reason for such widespread opposition was simple: “It would replace congressional oversight of the nation’s aviation system with a board, effectively dominated by the airlines, and unaccountable to Congress. The group would have authority to target resources toward the large airline hubs and make self-serving decisions.”
The Washington Post editorial also suggested that the proposed legislation could have made air travel more efficient by clearing more room in the skies and at airports for airlines, a statement AOPA and NBAA called "way off base."
“General aviation makes up less than 1 percent of traffic at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport and O'Hare International Airport in Chicago and less than 2 percent at LaGuardia Airport in New York,” wrote AOPA and NBAA.
Despite a mischaracterization of the legislation by The Washington Post, H.R.4, minus the controversial ATC provision, sailed through the House with a 393-to-13 bipartisan vote—a victory for all aviation and GA.