Washington Doesn’t Need to Enable Big Airlines’ Power Grab
May 10, 2018
  • Share
  • Unfortunately, the May 4 editorial “What’s wrong with the FAA bill” inaccurately depicted the consistently broad and ideologically diverse opposition to the repeatedly rejected air traffic control (ATC) privatization scheme long championed by the big airlines and their allies. This bipartisan coalition included nearly every major consumer, passenger rights and labor group, many agricultural and rural organizations, small businesses, community leaders and elected officials from across the country.

    This coalition recognized that the airlines’ ATC privatization proposal would have gifted oversight of ATC operations and assets to a private board dominated by big airline interests, with zero representation by consumer and passenger advocates. The board would have had nearly unfettered power to set fees, prioritize favored airports and routes, and determine system access without any meaningful congressional oversight, accountability or passenger recourse.

    The big airlines have chronically underinvested in critical technology upgrades such as GPS-based navigation equipment, slowing the NextGen modernization efforts they claim to support. Instead of investing their record profits to upgrade their systems, airlines spent millions lobbying to control public airspace. Not to mention the endless fees, frequent technology meltdowns, paying passengers being dragged off planes, reduced service to small airports, lost luggage and pet neglect that travelers continue to endure.

    Congress should turn its attention toward protecting passengers and strengthening the nation’s infrastructure, not enabling the airlines’ power grab.

    John D. Breyault

    The writer is vice president of public policy, telecommunications and fraud for the
    National Consumers League.