Tanya Snyder POLITICO Pro
Rural interests revolt against spinning air traffic control away from FAA
February 9, 2017
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  • On the heels of President Donald Trump’s meeting with airline executives this morning, rural interests released the results of a survey showing overwhelming opposition to a plan pushed by House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster to take the air traffic control system out from under the FAA umbrella and turn it over to a nonprofit corporation.

    Sixty-two percent of respondents said they opposed the idea of privatizing air traffic control, while only 26 percent said they favored such a plan. Opinion was split fairly evenly about privatizing government functions in general.

    “Modernization and privatization have gotten a bit conflated,” said Alliance for Aviation Across America Executive Director Selena Shilad. “To put air traffic control under the purview of a private board that would be accountable to private industry interests, as opposed to the public good, makes us extremely nervous.”

    The survey was done on behalf of general aviation and rural interests that oppose “privatization” of the ATC out of fear that a pay-to-play system could favor big commercial airlines over small ones.

    “The voters are clear,” said Jeff Pollock of Global Strategy Group. “They think the FAA is doing a good job.” The survey showed a 74 percent job approval rating for the FAA, and an 88 percent approval rating for its job operating the ATC system.

    In his meeting with airlines today, Trump referred to the FAA’s NextGen program as “totally out of whack.” He added, “I hear we have the wrong system,” though he didn’t explicitly endorse Shuster’s plan.

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