Concerns Mounting About Air Traffic Control Privatization
February 12, 2016
  • Share
  • In a contentious hearing Feb. 10, – and mark-up today – in the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Members of Congress raised a number of alarming questions about all the different harmful ways that a private air traffic control system run by the big, commercial airlines could hurt consumers and communities.

    Here is what Members of Congress are saying about air traffic control privatization:

    Privatization Would Hurt Consumers

    “And if they’re [the airlines are] going to run this FAA, I don’t think the consumer is going to get the right representation on that board,”- Rep. Don Young [R-AK]

    “This so-called non-profit will be dominated by for-profit airlines. The same companies that nickel-and-dime passengers for legroom will be making decisions about routes and taxing the public to manage the airspace” – Rep. Jerrold Nadler [D-NY]

    “[The size of airplane seats] is a huge problem. The American public has found that it is a torture device….This affects safety and health. And people needing to be able to get out of an airline safely, and reduced seats and reduced pitch is a threat to the flying public, and we should be concerned not just with comfort, but with safety and health.” – Rep. Steve Cohen [D-TN]

    “Planes are more crowded. They have smaller seats and less legroom…. Boarding a plane has become a battle between passengers to secure space…. This has led to air rage. Passengers have been getting into fights.” – Rep. Janice Hahn [D-CA]

    H.R. 4441 is a Giveaway to the Airlines

    “We’re talking about an asset, no one’s valued it, worth between $30 and 50 billion that will be given to the private corporation free of charge,” –Rep. Peter DeFazio [D-OR]

    “The taxpayers are supposed to give over billions of dollars of property to a private [entity]?” – Rep. Mike Capuano [D-MA]

    Privatization Means Giving the Airlines Too Much Control:

    “If the public is outraged, the only response will be, ‘Well, too bad.’ Public response would make no difference, and that’s what’s wrong with this board.” – Rep. Steve Cohen [D-TN]

    “We are not giving a for profit or non-profit the ability to run a concession. We are giving them an ecosystem.” – Rep. Todd Rokita [R-IN]

    “Who would I call when it’s a private company when I have those complaints and have those issues and why would the private company give a hoot about my constituents? They would only be interested, as private companies are and should be, in the bottom line,” – Rep. Mike Capuano [D-MA]

    Privatization is a Bad Experiment Gone Wrong

    “Privatizing the ATC in the US would be a science experiment with a lot of potential to go wrong” – Rep. Rick Larsen [D-WA]

    “Performing an unprecedented and uncontrolled experiment on the American flying public would be risky, unsafe and unfair to the flying public and the taxpayers” – Rep. Jerrold Nadler [D-NY]

    The Airlines’ Proposal Restricts Competition

    “How would this proposal ensure that airlines were not able to collude, reduce capacity, and close out competition? What specific safeguards are in place to ensure this cannot happen?” –Rep. Jerrold Nadler [D-NY]

    Privatization Means New Fees and Taxes

    “Privatization means they can slap on any user fees they want. We’re not going to prohibit that, under the proposal.” – Rep. Peter DeFazio [D-OR]

    H.R. 4441 and Rural Access

    “We’re talking about a national system. The statement was made yesterday by one segment of the industry that the truth of the matter is that they pay in the majority and GA shouldn’t even have the two seats that they have on the board. But if we use that line of thinking… then all of our highways would be going to New York, to Texas, to California. We wouldn’t have highways in Montana, in South Dakota, or North Dakota.” – Rep. Sam Graves [R-MO]

    “If someone controls the routes and they control the conditions under which you access those routes, and they control the investment in the system itself which means maybe we don’t want to invest in small or medium cities they aren’t profit centers, why would we invest there… …none of that will be subject to any elected representative” – Rep. Peter DeFazio [D-OR]