The recent column from longtime Washington media figure John Stossel about privatizing air-traffic control ( “A better way to fly” ) may play well in some inside-the-Beltway circles, but it unfortunately left readers without some key information about the idea.
Let’s be clear: Privatized air-traffic control represents nothing less than a giveaway of the nation’s aviation assets, worth billions in taxpayer dollars, to a new, private entity that will essentially be governed by an airline-centric board.
When this power grab is complete, the airlines will run the system in their best business interests. Anyone who has watched the airlines’ long-standing behaviors knows that when their business interests come first, consumers, communities and competition often get left behind.
For this same reason, there is ample reason to believe that innovation and efficiency could in many cases be stifled, not fostered, in a privatized air-traffic control system.
Ironically, Stossel is right on one point: Everyone wants to remain the world’s aviation leader, five, 10 or 25 years from now. But to do that, we should first focus on making smart investments in continuing upgrades so that aviation in America keeps its edge.
It’s unfortunate that instead of focusing on that simple premise, opinion writers like Stossel are getting distracted by the highly questionable notion of air-traffic control privatization.
The writer is president and CEO of the National Business Aviation Association (nbaa.org).