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Trump Promotes Plan to Make Air Traffic Control a Public-Private Partnership

Casey Ryan



WASHINGTON, June 6, 2017 - President Trump on Monday highlighted a plan to take the nation’s air traffic control system from a federal agency to a private, nonprofit organization.

In a noon announcement in the East Room of the White House, President Trump said, “our new plan will dramatically improve America’s air traffic control system by turning it over to a self-financing, nonprofit organization.  This new entity will not need taxpayer money, which is very shocking when people hear that.  They don’t hear that too often.”

“Under this new plan,” Trump continued, “the Federal Aviation Administration will focus firmly on what it does best -- safety.  A separate nonprofit entity would be charged with ensuring route efficiency, timely service, and a long-awaited reduction in delays.

“Our plan will also maintain support for rural communities and small airports, including airfields used by our Air National Guard units…. Our incredible air traffic controllers keep us safe every day even though they are forced to use this badly outdated system.  That is why we want to give them access to capital markets and investors so they can obtain the best, newest, and safest technology available.

“If we adopt these changes, Americans can look forward to cheaper, faster, and safer travel -- a future where 20 percent of a ticket price doesn’t go to the government, and where you don’t have to sit on a tarmac or circle for hours and hours over an airport -- which is very dangerous also -- before you land.”

Trump discussed Canada’s creation of a non-governmental organization to handle air traffic control more than two decades ago. He said that “they have cut costs significantly, adopted cutting-edge technology, and handled 50 percent more traffic -- and actually, far more than that on a relative basis compared to us.”

In an earlier White House press briefing given by D.J. Gribben, special assistant to the president for infrastructure, and Reed Cordish, assistant to the president for intragovernmental and technology initiatives, Gribben said the plan to separate air traffic control from the Federal Aviation Administration was being coordinated with the Department of Homeland Security to focus on safety.

Cordish also spoke briefly about the expansive nature of the upcoming infrastructure package. He said the Trump administration aimed to lower the time to construct infrastructure by reducing regulations.

He said the current package planned will include a “large focus on rural infrastructure.” He also said the plan will help create jobs in the workforce.

“As our efforts will be to rebuild America and at the same time, retrain America and make sure that our workforce is ready for these jobs of tomorrow,” Cordish said.

The Trump administration plans to work with Capitol Hill to build support for infrastructure legislation, and expressed confidence that the legislation would ultimately pass because of Republican control of the presidency and both chambers of Congress.

With regard to the new nonprofit governing air traffic control, the administration said there will be a 13-member board, with no designated seats for interest groups.

(Photo of Pope Field air traffic control from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers used by permission.)



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