House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) introduced legislation (H.R. 2997) on Thursday that would privatize air traffic control operations and remove them from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). A privatized system would force the public interest to take a backseat to private interests in decisions over the use of air space. Mayors from many small cities have expressed concern that a privatized system, dominated by the airlines, would reduce service to their cities in favor of larger cities. Law enforcement experts have raised concerns that security would be weakened in a privatized system. AFSCME has been working with other unions as well as consumer and good-government allies to oppose this legislation.
President Trump announced his support for privatizing air traffic control two weeks ago. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) responded with a strong statement of opposition. In the Senate, there is bipartisan skepticism of the scheme, including key Republican senators with jurisdiction over aviation, Sen. John Thune (SD) and John Barasso (WY).
The FAA must be reauthorized by the end of September and it’s unclear whether Chairman Shuster will use that deadline to put pressure on the Senate to support the proposal.