Fixing Air Travel Starts with Airline Management: Letters
June 30, 2017
  • Share
  • Fixing air travel starts with airline management

    Your June 21 editorial (“Air traffic control reform is long overdue”) missed some key points about privatization of air traffic control.

    Proponents of the privatization have promised the moon, but when you actually look at the causes of problems like airline delays, you find that the airlines themselves are responsible for most of them.

    The fact is that only the airlines, through more active management of their own “day-of” operations, can reduce the airline delays. For example, by implementing en-route airline business-based flow managemen and speeding up their aircraft so that the first flight scheduled to land at 8 a.m. actually lands at 7:50 a.m., the second at 7:51, and so on. Ten aircraft due in at 8 a.m. can all still be on time.

    Here is what privatization would do. First, it would provide airlines significantly more control over the air-traffic control system by removing key congressional oversight that ensures that the system works to benefit the public. This would give airlines the power to direct limited resources into only the hubs about which they care. 

    But what airlines don’t realize, or maybe they do, is that privatization would turn full “day of” control of the airlines’ primary production assets (aircraft) to the system.

    In what business model is having a quasi-government agency run your daily production process a good thing?

    This air traffic control privatization debate is unfortunately political gamesmanship at its worst, a sideshow aimed at shifting attention from the epidemic of airline mismanagement that results in most of the travel woes that plague consumers when they travel.

    Let’s get real and start holding the airlines accountable for managing their own business just like every other industry, as opposed to handing them the keys to a $30 billion to 50 billion piece of our public infrastructure.

    — R. Michael Baiada, Evergreen, Colo.

    Baiada is a consultant for the airline industry, and a former United Airlines pilot.