US regional business aviation groups have voiced opposition to ATC privatisation as part of the new administration’s budget proposal.
“Regional groups nationwide are speaking out, writing letters, holding meetings, hosting teleconferences and even getting non-aviation organisations involved in the effort to halt the ATC privatisation effort in its tracks,” said Steve Hadley, NBAA’s director of regional programmes and Southwest regional representative.
“To their credit, some business aviation groups have even sent delegations to Capitol Hill to meet face-to-face with their senators and representatives to make sure they understand the harmful effects that a privatised ATC could have on business aviation,” added Hadley.
Other regional business aviation groups have sent strongly worded letters to their federal representatives, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Bill Shuster and President Donald Trump.
While the House has not yet introduced its FAA reauthorization bill, the president’s ‘skinny’ budget, which was released last month, appears to endorse ATC privatisation – a proposal strongly opposed by NationAl Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and other aviation stakeholders who insist such a system would put control of the public airspace into the hands a private entity overseen by an airline-centric board of directors.
“On behalf of the Utah Business Aviation Association (UBAA), I am sending this letter to request that you oppose any attempt by Congress to privatise our nation’s air traffic control system and fund it with user fees,” wrote UBAA president Jeff Hansen. “Congressional oversight of the nation’s aviation system ensures that the public interest – including the people and companies that rely on aviation in small towns and communities – is served. Privatizing our air traffic control system could jeopardize these jobs and economic activity by threatening general aviation access to airports and airspace.”
“We are troubled that this proposal would hurt communities not near hubs, and further limit access to our nation’s air transport system,” wrote Florida Aviation Business Association (FABA) board member Wesley Earl, who added that his state is home to numerous aircraft manufacturers in addition to companies that rely on business aviation. “We are concerned that this proposal would be accompanied by user fees, which would bring additional harm to Florida and communities such as ours.”
Jeff Taylor, president of the Dallas, TX-based Love Field Pilot’s Association, wrote in a letter to the president, “We have already seen the negative effects from similarly privatised systems in several foreign countries. These entities receive funding through user fees, which in turn require a new bureaucracy of billing agents, collectors and auditors that impose a huge administrative burden on those required to pay the fees.
“Furthermore, the skies over the US are a national asset, and the general aviation community is committed to ensuring that the national air transportation system benefits all Americans,” he added.
Some of the other regional groups that have engaged in letter-writing efforts opposing ATC privatisation include the Colorado Business Aviation Association, the Alabama Business Aviation Association, the North Texas Business Aviation Association and the False River Regional Airport in Louisiana.