February 02, 2016

DeFazio, Larsen Oppose Air Traffic Control Privatization Plan

Washington, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Aviation Rick Larsen (D-WA) strongly opposed a proposal by Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) that would completely dismantle the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to privatize air traffic control and devolve Federal responsibility for the air traffic control system by handing it over to a private, not-for-profit board of industry interests and businesses.

“The United States aviation system is by far the busiest and most complex airspace in the world, and yet it’s incredibly safe. Congress must exercise extreme caution moving forward with any major changes to our air traffic control system, and any plan to change the current system must undergo extensive scrutiny. I have been clear; I have serious concerns about the constitutionality, the national security and safety implications, and the logistical challenges of separating the air traffic control system from other functions of the FAA as Chairman Shuster has proposed.

“The privatization plan will tear apart aviation programs, risk unnecessary duplication and complexity, and ultimately cost money for taxpayers and travelers. It jeopardizes stable, predictable funding and risks new fees or taxes.  This privatization proposal gives a private corporation the power to tax the American public to pay for safe operations, and it hands over a public asset worth billions of dollars to a private corporation for free. As Delta said in a letter this morning, this privatized corporation wouldn’t operate like a business, it would create a monopoly that picks winners and losers and decides routes, schedules, and slots based on profit margins. We should address the real problems that plague the FAA without devolving responsibility for safety to industry interests and I plan to introduce targeted amendments that do just that,” said DeFazio.

“I strongly disagree with the Republican proposal to privatize the air traffic control system. Much like we would not privatize our roads, bridges and highways, we should not privatize the highways of our skies. This untested, unnecessary proposal has serious implications for our national security by demoting the critical role the Department of Defense plays in our airspace as a partner with FAA. And while I understand NextGen reforms have been slow in coming, the FAA is making steady progress. Right now we are on a nonstop flight to implementing NextGen, but with privatization of the air traffic control system, we are headed for a seven-year-plus layover.

“An entire bipartisan bill now stands to be held up because of a complex, untested proposal to privatize air traffic control. The international competitiveness of our country cannot afford these costly delays,” Larsen said.