Kansas' Congressional Leaders React To Trump's Plan to Privatize Air Traffic Controllers

President Donald Trump speaks during the Ford's Theatre Annual Gala at the Ford's Theatre in Washington Sunday

President Donald Trump is calling on Congress to turn the nation's air traffic control system over to a private, non-profit organization in an effort to modernize air travel and lower costs.

"We live in a modern age", Trump said at the White House on Monday, "but our air traffic control system is stuck, painfully, in the past". He would also transfer responsibility for a $36 billion air traffic modernization program at the FAA to a new private entity.

Opponents, including Delta Air Lines, say the USA system is so large that privatization would not save money, and would drive up ticket costs and could create a national security risk.

What is wrong with the current air traffic control system? That effort picked up steam a year ago when the union that represents air traffic controllers agreed to support a proposal by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., to spin off air traffic operations into a private, nonprofit corporation.

"We're proposing reduced wait times, increased route efficiency and far fewer delays".

The president also noted that the old plan was designed at a time when only a 1,000 people flew each year.

Some passengers said the plan must make sense. Another is the suspicion that anything supported by the air-traffic controller union must be unacceptable.

Some airlines, such as Southwest and Alaska Airlines, have long advocated privatization of the air traffic control system.

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The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) announced Monday it publicly opposes plans from the White House to privatize America's air traffic control system. "It was very eye-opening".

Monday's announcement was the first to come during a week in which the administration hopes to focus on policy changes they say will improve United States roads, bridges and airports. Passengers sitting inside the planes have better Global Positioning System navigation right in their pockets, he said.

Privatization advocates, including the CEOs of most major US airlines, argue that spinning off the system into a nongovernmental entity would improve efficiency and speed the rollout of new technologies.

The proposal, created to lower costs and improve efficiency of the system that oversees flights, would transfer about 15,000 controllers and thousands of other managers and technical workers to a new government-sanctioned corporation. Numerous delays owe to the fact that the FAA is at the mercy of the federal budget cycle and congressional squabbles.

With the technology available today, this would no longer be necessary and the control center could be relocated, with air traffic controllers using digital displays.

Locally, Sawyer International Airport already functions on a contract control tower, which allows private contractors to work directly with the FAA.

About one in five flights arrived late or were cancelled at USA airports a year ago, delaying travel for almost a million passengers.