Plan to privatise US ATC faces strong opposition

26 January 2016 (Last Updated January 26th, 2016 18:30)

Two Democrats of Congress and several public advocacy groups have come out opposing a move to 'privatise' the US air traffic control (ATC).

Two Democrats of Congress and several public advocacy groups have come out opposing a move to 'privatise' the US air traffic control (ATC).

Over 130,000 Americans signed an online petition, which will be submitted to Congress, protesting against the separation of ATC from FAA to not-for-profit entity.

The coalition is called the Americans Against Air Traffic Privatization (AAATP) and includes consumer groups such as Public Citizen's Congress Watch, Progressive Congress and People Demanding Action.

"We need a system where consumers come first, not airline executives."

Democratic Representatives Elijah Cummings and Eleanor Holmes Norton, both of whom are members of the US House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, also opposed the move.

Cummings was quoted by USA Today as saying: "The system that we have now under the current regulations has been a very strong, effective and efficient system."

Republican Represenatative Bill Shuster, who is the transportation panel chairman, has stated he will propose to move ATC to a not-for-profit entity, reported Atwonline.com.

Shuster is, however, yet to put forth an FAA reauthorisation legislative proposal, which is likely to call for structural reforms in the ATC.

Airlines for America (A4A), a trade body of US airlines, has come out in support of setting up a 'federally chartered non-profit corporation outside of the federal government' to manage air traffic control.

Unlike the public advocacy groups, A4A does not look at this plan as an attempt at ATC privatisation.

Advocacy group People Demanding Action co-executive director Andrea Miller was quoted by Atwonline.com as saying that "no matter how you spin [separating ATC from FAA], we know what to call it. It's privatisation. We need a system where consumers come first, not airline executives."

This opposition comes as Congress gets ready to debate on policy legislation for the FAA that will expire on 31 March.