As a lifelong pilot, aviation enthusiast and a manager, I know from experience how important aviation is to the efficient functioning of our businesses and economy.
General aviation and our network of airports are a force multiplier for hundreds of local businesses and our economy. The Spirit of St. Louis Airport alone is home to 125 businesses that employ over 3,000 people. These airports and aircraft support people not only working at the airport, but jobs at the businesses that depend on them, and they provide a lifeline to our local communities, facilitating access to chronic and specialty medical care.
Now special interests in Washington are pressuring Congress to privatize our air traffic control system. The momentum behind this idea is unfortunately based on a number of misconceptions, the first of these is that somehow these changes are necessary for modernization, and that they would save consumers and citizens money to privatize our system. Yet according to recent analysis, the Federal Aviation Administration’s air traffic control system is actually cheaper to run than Nav Canada, and the Canadian system is only about one-tenth of the size of our system in the U.S.
In addition, a privatized air traffic control system would be funded by user fees, which would require the establishment of a whole new bureaucracy to administer these fees, and decimate small businesses that depend on these aircraft and airports for their livelihood.
And, if the governance structure of the FAA or air traffic control system is changed and the commercial airlines hold the purse strings, who is to say what would happen to our smaller Missouri and Southern Illinois airports? There are over 5,000 airports in the U.S. but only about 500 of them have commercial air service.
Right now, our nation’s network of airports is overseen by Congress, and ensures airports and communities of all sizes are protected and funded for the benefit of all citizens. Let’s keep it this way.
Robin Oldfield, Fenton
Member, Alliance for Aviation Across America