Niel Ritchie Columbus Dispatch
Letter: Big airlines won’t help smaller airports 
July 11, 2017
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  • The July 1 op-ed “Revitalizing air-traffic control would boost small airports” by William Swelbar unfortunately missed the mark on what privatizing the air-traffic-control system would mean for small communities.

    Privatization would place control of the nation’s air-traffic-control system in the hands of private interests and the big airlines. Decisions ranging from taxes on consumers to where air-traffic-control resources are directed to which airlines can compete in the system will be within the control of the biggest airlines.

    Why would that be so bad? Well, if history is any judge, the airlines already have cut more than 20 percent of routes to small and mid-sized communities. They continue to squeeze consumers with endless new fees. And they have said that they want to privatize air-traffic control so they can direct resources into the areas “which need it the most″: specifically, the Northeast corridor.

    And, though the airlines claim that privatization would somehow help the deployment of modernization or NextGen, the Government Accounting Office has said that privatization would actually delay the implementation of NextGen by five or more years. And the airlines cannot seem to get through a week without a massive customer-service or technological issue, so it’s a little hard to believe that they could make anything more efficient, let alone air traffic control.

    Privatization and handing our air-traffic-control system to the airlines would not help smaller airports, rural communities, or really anyone other than the commercial airlines. We must say no.

    Niel Ritchie

    Chief executive officer

    Main Street Project

    Northfield, Minn.