Your recent commentary (“Putting Rural America First in Aviation,” by U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman) unfortunately did not mention the potential implications of privatizing our air traffic control system on small communities and rural parts of the country.
First and foremost, privatization would take away Congressional oversight over our air traffic control system and turn over key decisions, including how resources directed, taxes and fees, and critical decisions about routes and airport access to a private board that would be dominated by the big airlines.
This move would allow the airlines and other private interests to shape the system in ways that suit them, including by diverting resources toward their largest hubs in the Northeast corridor over communities in states like ours, which is their stated goal. This after the airlines have already cut routes to small and mid-sized markets by more than 20 percent over the last decade or so.
In addition, air traffic control privatization would actually delay the implementation of our Next Generation Air Transportation system by five to seven years, as was pointed out by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office. And judging by the airlines recent track record of mismanagement of everything from their customer service, to their reservations and other technological systems, it is hard to imagine how we can entrust them to manage air traffic control.
The plain truth is that the airlines continue to push for privatize air traffic control because they stand to gain a lot with their bottom line, while consumers and communities will be the ones who continue to lose out.
(Morris is the principal at ETI Corp. of Memphis and a pilot.)