Pullman Mayor Glenn Johnson, who chairs the Moscow-Pullman Regional Airport board, has joined 35 other mayors around the country denouncing President Donald Trump’s announcement Monday of a plan to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system.
The plan would transfer the job of tracking and guiding airplanes from the supervision of the Federal Aviation Administration to the major airlines.
The Alliance for Aviation Across America said in a news release for the mayors, “We have serious concerns about the principles put forth by the president to privatize our air traffic control system … . Privatizing the air traffic control system would harm communities like ours, threatening jobs and hampering the economic activity that depends on our public air transportation system.”
Trump suggested the plan would reduce wait times, increase route efficiency and decrease delays for a more affordable price.
“These are the same airlines that have cut flights to small- and mid-sized airports by over 20 percent in recent years. We simply cannot leave small- and mid-sized communities to fend for themselves,” the news release reads.
Johnson pointed out Tuesday the recent declaration by Spokane International Airport CEO Larry Krauter reiterating his opposition to privatization.
The Spokesman-Review reported last week that Krauter said it could compromise passenger safety and increase travel fees.
Johnson said the plan would be specifically detrimental to the local airport.
Johnson praised the FAA for its handling of air traffic control and its push toward new technology.
“They are moving us in the direction of a new technology, the FAA is already,” Johnson said. “But it’s not to the point where it’s mandatory with all airlines, and everybody else has to convert over to the new system.”
Because airlines haven’t yet moved in the direction the FAA wants to go, the airport board has had a long-standing battle with it over installation of a more modern GPS-based landing system versus retention of the ILS system most airlines are still using.
Johnson credited the FAA, not the airlines, for pushing for new and better technology.
The FAA recently approved a $15 million grant for the local airport’s 2017 construction package, and, despite the battle, part of that will go toward a reimbursement agreement with the FAA to design and procure the ILS.