Trump proposes privatizing United States air traffic control system

"We will continue to work with the administration and members of Congress including the General Aviation Caucus to ensure that safety, access, cost, and the freedom to fly are protected and addressed", Baker said. In exchange, controllers would get guarantees that they would retain their benefits, salaries and union representation.

Opponents, including Delta Air Lines, say the USA system is so large that privatization would not save money, and would drive up ticket costs and could create a national security risk. Additionally, the air-traffic control system would move toward a model based on GPS technology, rather than the more rudimentary radar-based technology now used, meaning - in theory, at least - that planes could operate more efficiently, use less fuel and charge less.

So far, the person holding much of the power over the bill in the Senate, John Thune, the South Dakota Republican chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation committee, stopped short of endorsing the measure in an emailed statement Monday. Trump said the current air traffic control system was developed in a time when approximately 100,000 people were traveling through airports each year, but that that number is now approaching one billion.

The plan calls for creating a board with representatives from airlines, unions, trade groups and the federal government.

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He said that during the Obama administration, the FAA "didn't know what the hell they were doing" in spending $7 billion to modernize the aviation system.

"But now we have a president who's all in, which makes all the difference in the world when you have presidential leadership on a topic like this", he said.

The spinoff proposal's best place for consideration is in an upcoming reauthorization for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), whose legal authority expires at the end of September.

During the White House event, Shuster and others emphasized the antiquated system used for controlling air traffic.

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USA airlines have lobbied since the 1980s to privatize the air traffic system to gain more control, reduce their costs and replace passenger ticket taxes with user fees based on takeoffs, landings and other operations.

"Privatizing the largest and most complex aviation system in the world is a risky and unnecessary step at this pivotal point in its modernization". "However, the specifics matter greatly, so it's encouraging to see the president voice his support for privatization when it comes to air traffic control". "If you go to the tower in Toronto, or the tower in Heathrow or the tower in Hong Kong, it's all done electronically". He says air traffic control is only one of a host of aviation oversight duties of the FAA.

Winning congressional approval would still be an uphill battle for Trump.

Democrats have largely opposed the changes, warning that airline interests would dominate the proposed board, overseeing an estimated 300 air traffic facilities and about 30,000 employees. So, that begs the question, is this a tax shift or really a tax cut?

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