Labor Unions, Civil Rights, Progressive Groups Unite To Oppose ATC Privatization

Source: Aero News Network, September 13, 2017
 
The Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS), AFL-CIO, along with 36 other unions, civil rights groups and progressive associations representing thousands of employees across the country, united to send a strongly-worded letter to lawmakers on Capitol Hill late last week opposing any efforts to privatize the U.S. air traffic control system. In addition to PASS, the letter was signed by the NAACP, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), United Steelworkers (USW), the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and many more. …

Related:

Trump’s Dire Air-Traffic Claim Contradicted by Government Report
Source: Alan Levin, Bloomberg, September 7, 2017

Efforts to upgrade the U.S. air-traffic system are on budget and steadily improving flight efficiency, a government watchdog found, contradicting assertions by President Donald Trump and airline executives. Just as the House is set to debate a bill that would separate the air-traffic system from the Federal Aviation Administration, a Government Accountability Office report requested by lawmakers shows that the existing system is performing well, undercutting one of the chief arguments by proponents of the change. …

Read full report.

Unions representing air traffic controllers, flight attendants support House bill to reauthorize FAA
Source: Kim Riley, Transportation Today, August 29, 2017
 
Two of Capitol Hill’s prominent aviation-related labor unions have found more than one thing to support in the House proposal that aims to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  Specifically, one of the main thrusts of the 21st Century AIRR (Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization) Act, H.R. 2997, would be to transfer air traffic control (ATC) operations currently overseen by the FAA into a private, separate, not-for-profit corporation. The bill also would reauthorize FAA funding and other programs. …


Dems demand new cost estimate for Trump’s air traffic control plan
Source: Melanie Zanona, The Hill, August 7, 2017

House Democrats are demanding a new cost estimate for President Trump’s proposal to separate air traffic control from the federal government. In a letter to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), top Democrats on several committees asked for a new score of the spinoff plan after changes were made to the legislation following its approval from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The privatization push has been formally endorsed by the White House but has not yet been brought to a floor vote in the House. …

As the House rushes toward summer recess, the fate of 30,000 federal workers is undecided
Source: Ashley Halsey III, Washington Post, July 26, 2017
 
Almost two months after President Trump with great fanfare endorsed removing them from the payroll, the fate of more than 30,000 federal employees will not be decided before the House adjourns for its summer recess.  House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) had hoped to find both the necessary votes and time on the House floor for consideration of a bill that would spin the nation’s air traffic controllers and thousands of people working on modernizing the aviation system into a private nonprofit corporation. But in the maelstrom of last-minute action before the House heads home Friday, the bill has not been scheduled for what was expected to be a contentious debate on the floor. The proposal still faces bipartisan opposition in the Senate. …

Senate panel rejects air-traffic control privatization
Source: Bart Jansen, USA Today, July 25, 2017
 
Senators who decide how much to spend on the Federal Aviation Administration rejected Tuesday the Trump administration’s proposal to privatize air-traffic control.  The Senate Appropriations subcommittee for transportation and housing approved by voice vote a $60 billion bill, with $16.7 billion for FAA.  The senators joined their House counterparts in rejecting a proposal to move controllers from FAA to a non-profit corporation. But the decision isn’t final because the Senate and House must still debate and resolve their differences before spending decisions become final, months from now. …

House Republicans work to torpedo Trump’s air traffic control plan
Source: Melanie Zanona, The Hill, July 19, 2017
 
Two House Republicans are actively working to torpedo President Trump’s effort to separate air traffic control from the federal government, which would deliver a major blow to one of the administration’s chief infrastructure priorities.  Reps. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) and Ralph Abraham (R-La.), who say they agree with Trump about the need to modernize the country’s air navigation system, told The Hill on Tuesday that they have been explaining their concerns over the spinoff plan to colleagues, pointing out contentious bill language and trying move skeptical GOP lawmakers into the “no” column. …

Trump’s air traffic overhaul faces bumpy skies
Source: Brianna Gurciullo and Lauren Gardner, Politico, July 9, 2017
 
A month after Trump offered his public support in a White House speech, the proposal to split up the Federal Aviation Administration still faces opposition from rural interests, small-plane owners and key Republicans in Congress, where the to-do list for returning lawmakers is piled high with big tasks like repealing Obamacare and rewriting the tax code. …

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on FAA Privatization Bill
Source: AFSCME Press Release, June 23, 2017
 
AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the FAA privatization bill released Thursday: “AFSCME is strongly opposed to inefficient and risky efforts to privatize the nation’s air traffic control operations. Air traffic safety must be our chief concern and that requires responsible governmental control and continued strong oversight. AFSCME cannot support the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization legislation now pending in the House of Representatives. “The bill, as introduced, has the potential to threaten safe and efficient air travel for many Americans, to significantly weaken the economy, and to harm the committed federal workforce that is dedicated to the safe and efficient aviation all Americans deserve and expect. Congress must reject this risky plan.” …

House unveils latest bill to privatize air-traffic control
Source: Bart Jansen, USA Today, June 21, 2017
 
A House chairman unveiled his latest proposal Wednesday to move air-traffic control out of the Federal Aviation Administration and to a non-profit corporation governed by industry stakeholders, setting off a contentious debate that will play out through the fall.  Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., said the change would allow faster, more efficient modernization of the system from ground-based radar to satellite-based GPS. Strong support from President Trump and airlines, along with changes to the corporation’s board and for general-aviation, improved the bill’s chances from a similar proposal last year, he said. …

Trump Air-Traffic Plan Faces Turbulence
Source: Andy Pasztor, Natalie Andrews, and Susan Carey, Wall Street Journal, June 7, 2017
 
The White House bid to privatize the nation’s air-traffic control system faces hurdles including widespread Democratic opposition, many skeptical GOP senators and industry divisions that scuttled earlier efforts.  Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is expected to try to rev up support during congressional testimony Wednesday, particularly by offering assurances that rural communities won’t be shortchanged. But passage would require a dramatic pullback by political forces arrayed against it, according to lawmakers, congressional staffers and industry officials.  The proposal’s prospects are further clouded by Congress’s present focus on health-care reform—and lawmakers’ uncertainty about why President Donald Trump opted to put air-traffic control atop his infrastructure agenda. …

Will Privatized Air Traffic Control Put You in Danger? Trump reignites a long-simmering debate. We take a look at how other countries have done it.
Source: Justin Bachman, Bloomberg, June 6, 2017
 
….For passengers, though, the paramount question is obvious: Would a private system be any less safe? A look at five countries where private groups handle air traffic shows that there need not be increased safety risks. But that still leaves a number of open questions as U.S. airlines, pilots, regulators, unions and travelers watch to see whether Congress takes up a sweeping overhaul of air traffic control….

White House formally backs plan to send 30,000 federal workers to private corporation
Ashley Halsey III and John Wagner, Washington Post, June 5, 2017
 
The White House on Monday will formally endorse a plan to spin off more than 30,000 federal workers into a private nonprofit corporation, separating the nation’s air traffic controllers and those who work on a $36 billion modernization program from the Federal Aviation Administration.  The Trump administration proposal, which will be presented at the White House later Monday, essentially is an endorsement of a plan that failed to gain sufficient traction in Congress last year.  The plan, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, is in keeping with the stated desire of the administration and congressional Republicans to streamline government and transfer some functions into private hands. …

White House details plan to privatize air traffic control
Source: Carten Cordell, Federal Times,  June 5, 2017
 
The Trump administration unveiled the opening chapter of its much-anticipated infrastructure package with a plan to spin off the nation’s air traffic control operations from the Federal Aviation Administration. ….Last month, seven federal employee groups — including the American Federation of Government Employees; American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees; FAA Managers Association; National Association of Government Employees; National Federation of Federal Employees; Professional Association of Aeronautical Center Employees; and Professional Aviation Safety Specialists — denounced any White House efforts to privatize air traffic control, saying that it would hobble NextGen development. …

FAA Labor, Management Tell Congress Not To Privatize ATC
Source: Aero News Network, May 17, 2017
 
Seven unions and associations representing thousands of employees at the FAA have united to send a letter to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leaders opposing any efforts to privatize the U.S. air traffic control system. The letter was signed by the Professional Aviation Specialists (PASS), the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME), FAA Managers Association (FAAMA), National Association of Government Employees (NAGE), National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE), and Professional Association of Aeronautical Center Employees (PAACE). “On behalf of the thousands of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employees represented by our organizations, we are writing to express our concerns regarding any proposal to privatize this country’s air traffic control system,” stated the letter. “FAA employees ensure the highest levels of safety in the world’s largest and most complex aviation system. As you develop FAA reauthorization legislation, we ask that you refrain from any attempts to privatize the air traffic control system.” …

The case against privatizing the nation’s air traffic control system
Source: Reps. Peter Defazio and Rick Larsen, The Hill, May 10, 2017
 
Privatization proponents brush off these concerns and argue that our air traffic control system has suffered under years of congressional mismanagement.   On that point, we could not agree more: shutdowns and sequestration have made it impossible for the FAA to plan and make the major long-term investments it needs to implement new technology.   However, privatization would tear apart the FAA and jeopardize aviation safety by leaving its remaining critical safety oversight and certification functions reliant on general fund appropriations and vulnerable to future budget cuts, sequestration and government shutdowns. …

Air traffic control privatization: A risky corporate giveaway that will harm consumers
Source: Donald Cohen, Sally Greenberg, Paul Hudson, and Linda Sherry, The Hill, April 26, 2017
 
Unfortunately, the big airlines are now pushing a risky air traffic control (ATC) privatization scheme that would do just the opposite. Under this proposal, the FAA would hand over control (for free) to an unelected, unaccountable non-profit corporation, likely to be dominated by the airlines themselves. This unwise corporate giveaway would give nearly unchecked power, market domination and private control over a core public asset to big commercial interests at
great expense to consumers, local communities and national security. …

Trump air traffic control proposal draws mixed reviews
Source: David Shepardson, Reuters, March 17, 2017

President Donald Trump’s proposal to privatize U.S. air traffic control won the backing of major U.S. airlines, but drew criticism from other groups concerned smaller airlines and private companies would lose airport access. Privatization advocates argue that spinning off air traffic control from the Federal Aviation Administration would increase efficiency and reduce costs, in part by avoiding the government procurement process. Opponents say the U.S. system, which handles 50,000 flights a day, is so large that privatization would not cut costs, drive up ticket costs and potentially create national security risks. There also are concerns airlines would dominate the private-company board and limit access to airports by business jets. … It could take a strong presidential push for the privatization effort. Last year, it failed to get even enough support from Republican members for a vote on the House floor.

In the battle over who controls U.S. airspace, it’s big lobbyists vs. small airports
Source: Curtis Tate and Alex Daugherty, McClatchy DC, March 6, 2017
 
… Small cities and general aviation manufacturing hubs oppose the effort to transfer that responsibility to a private corporation governed largely by the industry.  The airlines are eager to change the system because they’ll have more control over the nation’s airspace. The Wichitas of America fear they’ll end up paying higher costs in fees for takeoffs and landings – and have less control over a system dominated by major airlines. … Wichita, the nation’s leading manufacturer of small airplanes, is the largest city whose mayor signed a letter to congressional leaders opposing the plans to change who oversees U.S. airspace. … Wichita and some of its aviation manufacturers have lobbyists in Washington, but they’re up against well-paid and well-connected former members of Congress and their staffs. … The commercial carriers that serve Wichita – including American, United and Southwest – paid Washington firms a combined $10 million for lobbying last year to push, in part, for the change in air traffic control. … The big airlines want to upend the air traffic control system to speed up implementation of NextGen, a long-stalled project to replace 1950s ground-based radar technology with GPS systems capable of moving more planes more closely together through the sky. The FAA estimates that it will cost the federal government and the airline industry $35.8 billion to complete the system by 2030. The airlines think their plan can make it happen faster. …

Trump Slams Air-Traffic System, Cheering Privatization Advocates
Source: Alan Levin and Laura Curtis, Bloomberg, February 9, 2017

President Donald Trump called the U.S. air-traffic system “obsolete” Thursday in comments that were cheered by proponents of taking the job of monitoring the skies away from government. Trump, speaking at a meeting of airline executives and other aviation industry officials, made the strongest comments to date from the White House on problems with the air-traffic system. He echoed what lawmakers and executives who favor placing the air-traffic system in the hands of a nonprofit corporation have said. … The president’s words — which also included an apparent broadside aimed at the head of the Federal Aviation Administration — drew rapid praise from airlines that favor splitting air-traffic from the FAA. Such a measure was included last year in House legislation setting FAA policy, but stalled in the Senate and wasn’t included in the final bill. Congress is taking up the matter again this year. Opponents of spinning off air-traffic control say that the plan would give too much oversight to airlines, that the government should maintain control for national security reasons and that the existing system isn’t broken. …

New year, new president, renewed debate over fate of 30,000 federal workers
Source: Ashley Halsey III, The Washington Post, January 22, 2017

… President Trump, the new player on the block in an ongoing conflict between the House and the Senate, has promised to reduce the federal workforce but has been silent on an issue that would cut the Federal Aviation Administration’s staff by about 65 percent. That’s why two senators pounced when his nominee to head the Transportation Department, Elaine Chao, showed up for her confirmation hearing Jan. 11. … On that, Chao was noncommittal. … Two days later, the undercurrent was apparent in the reactions on the House side to an inspector general’s report that criticized the FAA. “This report adds to the sea of evidence supporting the need for real reform in modernizing and managing air traffic services and letting the FAA focus on its safety mission,” said Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Transportation Committee and a leading proponent last year of severing 14,000 air traffic controllers and about 16,000 other FAA workers from the payroll. … The very use of the word “privatize” has become controversial; Shuster’s proposal would move the workers to a federally chartered nonprofit organization run by a board of directors. … There are several reasons behind the push to cut up to 30,000 people from federal service, but none have been so worrisome for Congress as the perceived lack of progress in overhauling the country’s aviation system. … That frustration led Shuster to a radical proposal a year ago: Move 14,000 air traffic controllers, and the NextGen modernization staff, to a nonprofit corporation. The FAA would retain its role as an oversight agency… Shuster won surprising support from the controllers’ union, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, which argued that spinning off controllers into a private entity would protect them from the threat of government shutdowns and uncertain federal funding. Shuster says that final details of this year’s proposal aren’t set… This year, the union will go only so far as to say that it will evaluate any proposal based on “whether they protect workforce rights and benefits [and] maintain safety.” … Rather than wrestle over it, Congress passed a short-term authorization bill for the FAA that will expire Sept. 30, setting the stage for renewal of the battle this year. That Senate Republicans remain divided on the issue was evident at Chao’s confirmation hearing, where Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) said he opposed the privatization plan and pressed Chao to move forward with NextGen.

Chao dodges question about privatization of air traffic control
Source: Robert Silk, Travel Weekly, January 11, 2017

Elaine Chao, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to run the Department of Transportation, steered clear of taking a position on privatizing air traffic control (ATC) during her nomination hearing Wednesday before the Senate Committee on Science, Commerce & Transportation. “I’d like to get confirmed first,” she joked in response to a question about where she stands on the issue from Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) the top ranking Democrat on the committee. As part of the debate over FAA reauthorization last spring, the House Transportation Committee passed a bill calling for management of ATC to be shifted from the FAA to a nonprofit corporation overseen by a board of stakeholders. Supporters of the measure argued that it would speed implementation of NextGen, the GPS-based technology that is replacing the radar-based system currently in use in the U.S., while removing ATC from the uncertainty of the highly politicized appropriations process in Congress. Opponents say that the process of reorganizing how the ATC is administered would delay the implementation of NextGen and increase costs. …

Trump could privatize nation’s air traffic controllers
Source: Ginger Gibson, Reuters, December 8, 2016

The chances that the federal government could hand off the U.S. air traffic control system to private management are increasing, say advocates who report they are getting supportive feedback from President-elect Donald Trump and his team. U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, who chairs the House of Representatives Transportation Committee, has met with Trump and incoming Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to make his case for moving the nation’s 14,500 air traffic controllers and their mission out of government control and into a non-profit organization. Shuster and other privatization advocates argue that spinning off air traffic control into a non-government entity would allow for a more efficient system and rapid, cost-effective improvements of technology, in part by avoiding the government procurement process. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association, the union that represents controllers, came out in favor of Shuster’s legislation earlier this year. But he has run into bipartisan opposition in both the House and the Senate and push back from some of the nation’s airlines. Opponents say the U.S. system is so large that privatization would not save money, would drive up ticket costs and could create a national security risk.

Airlines Want Privatized Air Traffic Control but Delta Remains Opposed
Source: Ted Reed, The Street, September 16, 2016

The U.S. airline industry reiterated its strong support earlier this week for its principal Washington cause: privatizing the nation’s aging, inefficient, air traffic control system and removing it from the Congressional budgeting process. … Yet despite all the unity, the effort seems challenged, with little apparent change since ATC reform was left out of the Federal Aviation Administration authorization bill that Congress approved in July. Delta (DAL) , the world’s second-largest airline, remains opposed to privatization. The A4A doesn’t seem positioned to win additional hearts and minds in Washington, despite spending millions on airline image advertising and $3.8 million on hard-charging Republican CEO Nick Calio’s annual salary. …

Senate, House Clash Over Privatizing FAA
Source: Eric Katz, Government Executive, April 20, 2016

The Senate on Tuesday approved a measure to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration, concluding a prolonged debate over legislation to keep the agency functioning through September 2017. … Unlike its counterpart in the House, however, it does not de-federalize air traffic control. The House’s Aviation Innovation, Reform and Reauthorization bill would remove 30,000 employees from the federal payroll, transitioning air traffic control responsibilities to a non-profit corporation. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved the legislation, but it has yet to receive a vote on the House floor. … FAA is currently operating on a stopgap, six-month authorization bill that will keep the agency operating through mid-July. The two chambers in Congress still appear far apart on reaching an agreement. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., author of the AIRR Act and chairman of the transportation committee, said he appreciated the Senate’s work but continued to push for his de-federalization plan.

Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Bipartisan FAA Bill Without Air-Traffic Control Privatization
Source: Andy Pasztor, Wall Street Journal, April 19, 2016

The Senate voted 95-3 to approve a Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill that beefs up airport security, promotes widespread uses of commercial drones and streamlines certification of new safety systems for private planes. … But as expected, it doesn’t follow the lead of House Republicans who want to shift the agency’s air-traffic control system and some 38,000 employees under the control of an independent, nonprofit corporation.

Don’t Privatize Air Traffic Control
Source: New York Times, February 15, 2016

The bill could also disrupt the F.A.A.’s work to increase the nation’s flight capacity and reduce delays. That project is called NextGen, and it has shown promising results. But the agency has taken longer and spent more than it expected. Mr. Shuster and his colleagues have pointed to this as a rationale for privatization, but they conveniently ignore the problems private companies often have with such large technical projects. Besides, Congress itself is to blame for some of NextGen’s problems because it has not provided stable funding to the F.A.A. in recent years. … The privatization bill also gives short shrift to passengers’ interests. The new air traffic operator is to have a 13-member board of directors, with four of them representing airlines, three representing the owners and operators of private planes and one for aerospace manufacturers. Just two people would be appointed by the secretary of transportation to stand up for the public, with the other seats going to the chief executive and unions.

Airport Privatization: Issues and Options for Congress
Source: Rachel Y. Tang, CRS Report No. R43545, February 16, 2016

Abstract: In 1996, Congress established the Airport Privatization Pilot Program (APPP; 49 U.S.C. ?47134; Section 149 of the Federal Aviation Reauthorization Act of 1996, P.L. 104-264) to increase access to sources of private capital for airport development and to make airports more efficient, competitive, and financially viable. Participation in the program has been very limited, in good part because major stakeholders have different, if not contradictory, objectives and interests. Only two U.S. commercial service airports have completed the privatization process established under the APPP. One of those, Stewart International Airport in New York State, subsequently reverted to public ownership. Luis Mu?oz Marin International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, is now the only airport with a private operator under the provisions of the APPP.

House panel approves plan to privatize air traffic control
Source: David Morgan, Reuters, February 11, 2016

A Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives panel approved legislation to privatize the U.S. air traffic control system on Thursday as part of a six-year bill to authorize funding for the Federal Aviation Administration. Democrats failed in their attempt to amend the legislation to retain the flight service as part of the FAA. By a 32-26 vote along party lines, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee sent the measure to the floor for consideration by the full House.

EDITORIAL: The government should get out of the air traffic control business
Source: The Washington Post, February 11, 2016

On Thursday, the committee moved his proposal ahead with the hope of passing legislation by March 31, when the current FAA authorization statute expires. A new corporation, funded by charges on the system’s various users, would manage flights and implement the long-stalled modernization. The FAA would still ensure safety, a regulatory job it already does remarkably well and might do even better if it were free to focus on that exclusively. Major players in the industry would share governance of the new entity, working out their differences within its boardroom rather than through the costlier and more conflictual method of lobbying Congress, as they do now. These groups support Mr. Shuster’s plan, including not only commercial airlines but also the air-traffic controllers union, which had objected to similar plans in the past. This is by no means a panacea: Once upon a time, Congress turned over passenger rail and mail delivery to corporations known as Amtrak and the Postal Service. Much will depend on ensuring the new air traffic entity avoids the governance flaws that left those agencies still unduly dependent on Congress.

Delta stands alone among airlines in air traffic control fight
Source: Keith Laing, The Hill, February 4, 2016

Delta is the only major U.S. airline that is opposing a plan from House Republicans to separate the nation’s air traffic control system from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The proposal, which calls for the creation of a new nongovernmental organization that would take over air traffic control from the FAA, has created divisions in the airline industry at a time when lawmakers are debating a new aviation funding measure.  Delta has said the independent air traffic control proposal would amount to a privatization of the nation’s flight navigation system, which the company has said will result in higher air fares for U.S. passengers.

Air Traffic Control Privatization Finally Has A Realistic Shot At Being Passed By Congress
Source: Dan Reed, Forbes, February 5, 2016

It’s rare these days in Washington, D.C., when a politician introduces a major piece of long-sought reform legislation that already has lots of significant support on both sides of the aisle, broad industry backing, think tanks representing many different views all lining up behind it, seeming consumer support, and even the endorsement of a large government employees union. But Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., and chairman of the House Transportation Committee, did formally propose such a bill this week – the Aviation Innovation, Reform and Reauthorization, or AIRR Act. It would reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration and its funding stream until 2022. But the big news is that Shuster’s bill would create a new, non-profit, non-governmental, self-funding organization that would take over operation and further development of the nation’s air traffic control system. In so doing, the AIRR act also would be taking ATC management away from the FAA, which has proved over the last 40 years to be simultaneously excellent in safety enforcement and chronically slow and ham-handed in developing and implementing new technologies to improve the flow of aircraft through the nation’s skies and around our ever-more-congested airports.

The Growing Fight Over Privatizing Air-Traffic Control
Source: Brandon Sasso, The National Journal, February 3, 2016

The chair­man of the House Trans­port­a­tion Com­mit­tee un­veiled an am­bi­tious plan Wed­nes­day to over­haul the Fed­er­al Avi­ation Ad­min­is­tra­tion and hand over con­trol of the na­tion’s air-traffic-con­trol sys­tem to a private non­profit board. The dra­mat­ic pro­pos­al is already pit­ting power­ful avi­ation in­dustry lob­by­ing groups against each oth­er. But the change is ne­ces­sary, Chair­man Bill Shuster ar­gued, to cut through a vast bur­eau­cracy that is stifling growth in the avi­ation in­dustry. The pro­pos­al, which is part of FAA reau­thor­iz­a­tion le­gis­la­tion, would also in­su­late the air-traffic-con­trol sys­tem from con­gres­sion­al fund­ing fights, he said. … Un­der the le­gis­la­tion, dubbed the AIRR Act, the FAA would still have safety over­sight and reg­u­lat­ory powers. But the thou­sands of air-traffic-con­trol work­ers would be spun off in­to a sep­ar­ate en­tity that would be over­seen by a quasi-gov­ern­ment­al board. That board would in­clude rep­res­ent­at­ives from the air­line in­dustry, the gov­ern­ment, and labor uni­ons. …

Legislation Would Privatize 30,000 Federal Jobs
Source: Ian Smith, FedSmith, February 3, 2016

Congressman Bill Shuster (R-PA) introduced legislation today that would remove 30,000 federal employees from the government’s payroll while simultaneously turning much of the nation’s air traffic control system over to an independently operated, non-profit corporation. Known as the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act (H.R. 4441), the bill would provide six-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as well as maintain the FAA’s role as the Nation’s aviation safety regulator. …

Controversial bill proposes to privatize air-traffic control
Source: Bart Jansen, USA Today, February 3, 2016

Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., the chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said the change that most airlines have embraced would provide more stable funding for operations and for upgrading equipment. Political disputes in recent years sparked a partial government shutdown and furloughs for controllers. … In a significant move executive board of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, the union representing controllers, announced its support Wednesday for the legislation. After ensuring safety of the system, the union’s primary goal was to provide stable funding for the system while it expands with more air traffic. … But Delta Air Lines has been a notable exception. Delta’s senior vice president for flight operations, Capt. Steve Dickson, has argued that privatizing air-traffic control won’t reduce heavy traffic in the Northeast and could distract from current efforts to ease congestion.

Poll: 55 percent of voters oppose FAA privatization plan
Source: Keith Laing, The Hill, September 17, 2015

Fifty-five percent of voters are opposed to a Republican plan to privatize some facets of the nation’s air traffic control system, according to a new poll released on Thursday.  GOP leaders in the House have pushed to create a private air traffic control organization that would be separate from the FAA as the agency struggles to meet deadlines for upgrading the flight navigation system.  The poll, conducted by the Global Strategy Group on behalf of the Air Care Alliance, League of Rural Voters and Alliance for Aviation Across America, found that 55 percent of voters oppose the idea of “privatizing the ATC functions of the FAA ‘by taking it from the FAA and turning it over to a non-profit corporation.’” Only 29 percent of voters say they approve of the plan, although 51 percent of voters say they support other forms of government privatization, according to the poll. …

Should the U.S. Privatize Air Traffic Control?
Source: Justin Bachman, Bloomberg Business, September 11, 2015

…The current FAA-run system costs $2.07 per mile, 8 cents cheaper than Nav Canada charges, according to a recent study by Bob Mann, an industry consultant and former American Airlines executive. … There were 9.6 million airline departures from the U.S. in 2014, almost three times the number in second-place China, according to recent data from the World Bank. Canada and its private air traffic system ranked third with 1.3 million departures. Is the U.S. just too big? This is another issue on which reasonable people differ. In its response to a Department of Transportation Inspector General report on different models, the FAA noted earlier this month that it “controls 60 percent more [instrument] flights than all 40” of the European airspace control centers combined. … A key player in air traffic—pilots—have an open mind about the proposal but have devised an “absolutely essential” four-part test for any reform legislation … To gain pilots’ support, Canoll said, any new system must be as safe as the FAA’s, structured as a not-for-profit financed by “fair and equitable” fees across all airspace users, and offer collective bargaining rights to employees.

Audit finds ‘significant differences’ in private air traffic control
Source: Keith Laing, The Hill, September 9, 2015

A report from the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General found “significant differences” between the U.S. air traffic control system and other nation’s methods for managing flight movements.  The report, which was requested by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), comes as Republicans in the House are pushing to privatize large portions of the nation’s air traffic control system. … The transportation department’s watchdog said Wednesday that it examined similar at least semi-private air traffic control systems in four countries and found “significant differences” between the FAA and other nation’s airplane navigation sytems “operational and financing structures, as well as their approaches to modernization efforts. … The report contrast the findings about the partially privatized foreign air traffic control systems in other parts of the world to the FAA, which has come under fire for rising costs and delays in the implementation of a new satellite-based flight navigation system known as NextGen.

There Are Significant Differences Between FAA and Foreign Countries’ Processes for Operating Air Navigation Systems
Source: Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation, Report no. AV-2015-084, September 2, 2015

As Congress, the Administration, and other stakeholders examine possible changes to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) organization and financing structures, OIG was asked to compare those structures to foreign nations’. Each of the four nations we examined—Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France—has maintained government control of safety and regulatory functions but has commercialized their air traffic operations via independent air navigation service providers (ANSP). Unlike FAA, the ANSPs are financially self-supporting, and they do not embark on large modernization efforts or conduct extensive aviation research and development. While several differences make comparisons between the U.S. aviation system and other countries’ systems difficult—such as the size and complexity of the U.S. system—there are several lessons that can be learned from examining other nations’ experiences in separating their aviation functions, including issues related to maintaining safety oversight and transitioning to the new organization.

Rep. Bill Shuster Releases ‘Principles’ For Bill to Privatize U.S. Air-Traffic Control
Source: Andy Pasztor, Wall Street Journal, June 15, 2015

The chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said he is drafting legislation to create a federally chartered but “fully independent, not-for-profit” corporation intended to operate and modernize the U.S. air-traffic control system. In a speech and a list of legislative “principles” released Monday, Rep. Bill Shuster, a Pennsylvania Republican who has strongly hinted about such plans, asserted that the current federally run system has been battered by budget roller coasters and failed to keep up with traffic growth. … The union representing the nation’s air-traffic controllers hasn’t jumped on the privatization bandwagon either, but its president has publicly expressed a willingness to talk about options while demanding changes to provide stable funding.

Study Raises Legal Questions in Efforts to Privatize Air-Traffic Control
Source: Andy Pasztor, Wall Street Journal, May 12, 2015

A congressional study slated for release on Tuesday raises legal questions about proposals to privatize the Federal Aviation Administration’s traffic-control services, including how fees would be levied and safety standards enforced. Prepared by the Congressional Research Service, the study spells out what it considers constitutional hurdles to creating a private, nonprofit corporation to take over the government’s air-traffic control network, according to Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, the ranking Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee who asked for the study. He is a leading opponent of such privatization initiatives.

Support Builds to Redo U.S. Air-Traffic System
Source: Andy Pasztor and Susuan Carey, Wall Street Journal, May 12, 2015

… The AFL-CIO’s Transport Trades Department, a coalition of unions whose members work in aviation, has said it’s willing to consider changes but strongly opposes any privatization plans that involve a for-profit corporation or shifting FAA employees to a private entity.

4 Essential Questions About Air Traffic Control Privatization
Source: Kevin DeGood, Center for American Progress, May 5, 2015

From the summary:
…. The prospect of privatizing air traffic operations—and possibly, the procurement responsibilities for NextGen air traffic control modernization—raises many questions. Below are four of the most pressing.
1. If the current system of air traffic control governance works well, why privatize it? ….
2. Who would pay? ….
3. How would privatization affect NextGen implementation? …..
4. How would privatization affect aviation policy? …..

FAA Unions Speak Out Against ATC Privatization
Source: Kerry Lynch, AIN, April 23, 2015

The leaders of seven different FAA unions appealed to House lawmakers to reject efforts to privatize the agency’s air traffic control functions. In an April 22 letter to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the union leaders agreed that the most significant issue facing the agency is lack of a stable funding stream. But, “we do not agree that a massive change to the FAA’s structure is the solution to the funding problem,” they said. The letter comes two days after National Air Traffic Controllers Association president Paul Rinaldi called upon Washington leaders to ensure a stable funding stream for the agency. But unlike his other FAA union counterparts, Rinaldi was cautiously open to other nonprofit ATC structures. Likewise, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta testified this month that the agency would be open to such concepts as long as the FAA’s safety oversight mission is not compromised….

Should The Government Get Out Of The Air Traffic Control Business?
Source: Brian Naylor, NPR, All Things Considered, April 21, 2015

….The FAA has a solution to the inefficient radar. It’s called NextGen, and very simply put, it would replace the current air traffic control system with one based on GPS satellites, which would be more precise and allow more flights, closer together. Problem is, the FAA has been working on NextGen for over a decade now, and it still has a long way to go. At a recent congressional hearing, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., argued that “in the same amount of time that we’ve pursued NextGen, Verizon has updated its wireless system not once, not twice, not three times, but four times in the last 10 years.” So Shuster and others in Congress, along with the airline industry, think it’s time for someone other than the FAA to operate the air traffic control system….

Union signals openness to GOP air traffic control privatization plans
Source: Keith Laing, The Hill, April 20, 2015

The union that represents U.S. air traffic controllers signaled Monday that it could consider a Republican plan to privatize some facets of the nation’s air traffic control, but only after lawmakers approve a new round of funding for the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA’s funding is set to expire in September, and Republicans in Congress are pushing to privatize at least some air traffic control functions that are currently performed by the agency as it considers a potential extension of the aviation spending. National Air Traffic Controllers Association President Paul Rinaldi said Monday that Congress should focus first on extending the FAA’s funding, but he said he would be willing to talk about efforts to reform the agency after the aviation money is firmly put in place. …. The comments came a week after Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) introduced legislation in the House that calls for the creation of a new private corporation that would oversee air traffic control functions that are currently handled by the FAA. The new private organization would be known as the Employee Stock Ownership Corporation and would “allow stakeholders, including current air traffic controllers, airlines and users, to operate a new air traffic control system,” according to Mica. Mica and other supporters of privatizing at least some of the FAA’s air traffic control functions have often cited the creation of a similar system in Canada that is known as NavCanada….

Lawmaker Moves to Remake Air Traffic Control as a Corporation
Source: Charles S. Clark, Government Executive, March 30, 2015

As managed by the Federal Aviation Administration, the nation’s air traffic control system has for decades prompted complaints about faltering funding from Congress and a top-heavy bureaucracy that is slow to exploit new technology. With Congress gearing up to reauthorize the FAA by September, Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., is taxiing down the legislative runway with a plan to transform the current “dysfunctional” system by moving much of its management of 15,000 employees out of government and into a new corporation. His proposal would be a variation on a system already in use in Canada and the United Kingdom….Among the draft’s provisions are plans to set up private corporations operating in each state, and to task the Transportation secretary with determining who of senior management in air traffic control services will be transferred to the corporation and who shall continue at the FAA. Those remaining would not “exceed 1 percent of the total number of air traffic control personnel,” the draft stated.

House Panel Considers Privatizing FAA’s Air Traffic Control System
Source: Andy Pasztor and Susan Carey, Wall Street Journal, November 18, 2014

Capping months of studies and deliberations about possible privatization by industry officials and outside experts, a hearing on Tuesday morning highlighted bipartisan support for taking up the issue as part of the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill.

Sparks Fly on Privatizing Air-Traffic Control Movement Gains Steam as Means to Modernize System, but Critics Raise Specter of New Fees
Source: Susan Carey, Andy Pasztor, Wall Street Journal, August 24, 2014

As the U.S. air-traffic control system grows creaky with age and struggles with budgetary constraints that limit modernization, debate is mounting in Washington over whether the system would function more efficiently as a commercial entity. Advocates of full privatization or a hybrid public-private corporation believe a new structure would bring more reliable funding than the current mix of unstable congressional appropriations and a hodgepodge of taxes that go into a fund that supports air navigation as well as airport infrastructure and other functions. Critics say such a move would incur costly new fees on airlines and private pilots alike.

Is Privatization of Air Traffic Control on the Horizon? / How the sequester is shaping ATC reform
Source: Robert Poole, Reason Foundation, October 4, 2013

…As long as no such grand bargain is reached – and it is nowhere in sight – the next nine years will see continued annual sequester cuts. And that prospect threatens not only the ongoing operations of the ATC system; it is a potential death sentence for the FAA’s $20 billion NextGen modernization effort.

The first serious cry of alarm was issued late in February by the FAA’s own Management Advisory Council. On February 27, it sent a strongly worded letter to the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate committees that deal with aviation saying that the funding and governance system for the FAA is broken and needs to be replaced. Specifically, the letter called for replacement of the current hodge-podge of aviation excise taxes with sustainable funding sources and the creation of a governing board for the FAA that could work out the specifics of the funding sources – and presumably make other policy decisions.

If you think that sounds like an opening for creating a self-supporting air navigation service provider (ANSP), you’re right. In the months since then, both before and after the short-term FAA rescue by Congress, there has been extensive private discussion among aviation stakeholders about how the United States is the only developed nation whose ATC system can become a political football, held hostage to overall national government budget problems. Self-funded ANSP models such as Airservices Australia, DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung, NATS, and Nav Canada are being discussed by a surprising set of people, given the history of prior debates over “privatizing” US air traffic control. ..