Jan. 21, 2016

In a Jan. 15 letter to the Denver Post, Colorado businessman Iver Retrum noted that a recent, pro-ATC privatization editorial published in the newspaper “unfortunately painted a rosy picture of privatization based on foreign models that would be far from reality for small businesses, consumers and communities across our state.”

Retrum’s letter to the editor was just one example of the many business aviation advocates who have reached out to media outlets following NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen’s call to action, which urged industry people to tell their legislators and the general public about the threat posed by proposals for a privatized U.S. ATC system funded through user fees.

Citing his own experiences with the privately-controlled Canadian ATC network, as well as a 2016 report by the UK Airports Commission, Retrum – founding chair of the Colorado Aviation Business Association and a founding board member and treasurer of the Colorado General Aviation Alliance – also set the record straight about the cumbersome bureaucracies and economic difficulties experienced by some privatized ATC systems.

“In Canada, the system stumbled financially and required support to remain solvent,” wrote Retrum. “The UK’s privatized system needed unexpected financial bailouts from the government and taxpayers, because its supposedly stable funding streams proved volatile.”

Read Iver Retrum’s editorial against ATC privatization.

Retrum further stressed that America’s current ATC network exists to serve the public, “not the business benefits of one aviation-stakeholder group such as the airlines.” Without congressional oversight to ensure that the public interest is maintained, he added, there would be “no guarantee” of access to smaller communities and airports.

Concerns that a privatized ATC system funded by user fees would favor commercial airline operations over GA flights were also cited in Bolen’s call to action, released last year in response to a Dec. 3, 2015, press conference call, in which several airline CEOs called the creation of such a system their top priority in the FAA reauthorization debate now taking place in Washington.

The airline-dominated governing board of a privatized ATC system “will be left to make decisions about where and when companies using business aviation can fly, how much it will cost to do so, and what type of payment – including user fees – will be demanded of operators,” Bolen wrote.

Read Bolen’s call to action message.

In addition to engaging with local media, concerned industry stakeholders may utilize numerous NBAA resources to voice their concerns with their congressmen and senators. For example, Contact Congress, NBAA’s quick, convenient online advocacy tool, and NBAA’s Twitter resource both enable NBAA members to weigh in on the notion of a privatized ATC system funded through user fees.