Letter: Privatizing Air-Traffic Control is a Scary Idea
March 25, 2016
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  • The March 15 article by Ed Perkins, “Washington stirs travel pot – but will the result be tasty for consumers?” hit the mark on a number of fronts, with one notable exception.

    The greatest source of support for privatization of our air traffic control system comes from the big, commercial airlines, and for one simple reason — they have the most to gain. Privatization of our air traffic control system means taking all air traffic operations, including gate access, fees, seat space, airport investment and recourse for consumers (or lack thereof), and putting it under the control of a private board over which the commercial airlines would have considerable power. The private board would be made up of 13 directors, almost a third of whom would be from commercial airlines.

    This is a scary proposition that should concern the traveling public. In the last several years, commercial airline profits and fees have hit an all-time high, while routes to smaller towns have been cut, seat space is more cramped than ever and delays and complaints are rising. That is why there has been an outpouring of opposition to this proposal from my organization and many consumer advocates. Our air traffic control system is under the oversight now of the Federal Aviation Administration and Congress for good cause — it is a public benefit that ensures the safety and rights of communities and consumers across our country. Let’s keep it that way.

    — Donald Cohen, founder and executive director of In the Public Interest, Washington, D.C.