Privatizing the nation’s Air Traffic Control system could put a damper on natural disaster response, according to the former Chief of Staff on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Noah Kroloff served as chief of staff of the US Department of Homeland Security from 2009-2013 and as deputy chief of staff to Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano. He writes in an opinion piece in the Clarion Ledger newspaper that during natural disasters such hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, small and rural airports have served as a vital link in getting supplies to areas where they were needed. He said that if the plan to privatize ATC goes through as recommended by President Donald Trump and House Transportation Chair Bill Shuster (R-PA), new fees and taxes could place those airports at a disadvantage as resources are shifted to airports in major urban areas.
Kroloff writes that nearly 3,000 GA facilities supported emergency response and relief efforts during the natural disasters that have occurred this year alone. “The stability of these facilities will be dramatically impacted should our air traffic control system be privatized,” he wrote.
When major airports were shut down by the storms, Kroloff said private aircraft owners operating from GA airports were critical to helping people in need. He said that the government needs to consider the role that GA plays in the nation’s ability to respond to natural disasters all over the country.