Your editorial “Air-traffic control needs reform” blurred some key facts in the debate over air traffic control privatization.
First, modernizing air traffic control technology is very different from privatizing the air traffic control system. NextGen technology already implemented by the FAA has translated into $2.72 billion in savings in passenger time, occupant safety and aircraft operating costs. Meanwhile, privatization would give billions of dollars of taxpayer-purchased assets to a private board.
Privatization poses a real risk to smaller communities like ours. A private board responsible for decisions about what system costs and fees exist, where technology is invested, and what airports are priorities won’t be concerned with Ocala’s access to our aviation system. The commercial airlines, which would be a part of this board, have cut service to small and mid-sized communities by 20 percent in the last few years.
The Ocala International Airport is a key asset for our city, bringing in business and industry that drives our economy. Florida’s general aviation airports support 64,512 jobs and contribute over $7.7 billion to the state’s economy annually. Our airport also a gateway for emergency services like medical flights, law enforcement, search and rescue, and natural disaster response.
Privatization would cut Ocala’s economic development and risk our access to benefit large airport hubs elsewhere. Why should we pay for a private board’s choices?
Mayor Kent Guinn, Ocala