March 20, 2017

Following President Trump’s March 16 release of a federal budget proposal that appears to endorse privatizing the nation’s aviation system, the issue continues to raise concern, and was top of mind when NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen and Vice President of Government Affairs Christa Lucas were in the Midwest last week to talk about how such a proposal would negatively impact the industry, and to encourage stakeholders to rally against such plans.

Bolen discussed the issue during a visit with local business aviation leaders in Minnesota; Lucas traveled to Michigan to address an advocacy event in that state. During their visits, the two talked about how such a proposal would negatively impact the industry, and to encourage stakeholders to rally against such plans.

Speaking at a Minnesota Business Aviation Association meeting, Bolen emphasized how privatization of air traffic control services will negatively impact business aviation’s access to airports not served or underserved by commercial airline service, and limit the flexibility so critical to business aviation. He also encouraged attendees to make their concerns known to elected officials.

“Federal issues are driven by state advocacy,” said Bolen. “Elected officials need to hear from their constituents. Local advocacy helps cultivate positive attitudes toward business aviation, and sets the stage for NBAA to support business aviation issues in Washington, D.C.”

“Bolen’s visit was an opportunity for our members to hear directly from the CEO of NBAA what the association is focusing its efforts on, whether it’s ATC privatization or other issues,” said Gordon Hoff, executive director and government liaison of the Minnesota Business Aviation Association. “Some members are unable to attend the big national NBAA events, so visits like this bring information to members they might not get any other way. It’s a chance for people to put a face to the name and ask questions about the issues at hand.”

Lucas attended Michigan’s Legislative Day, and explained NBAA’s opposition to a privatized ATC system funded with user fees. She too encouraged attendees to continue advocating for business aviation interests.

“Business aviation relies on access, and we need to ensure continued access to large and small airports nationwide,” said Lucas. “Any legislation that seeks to privatize the ATC system will have a negative impact on business aviation. We commend the Michigan Business Aviation Association and its members for their commitment to advocacy.

“Michigan business aviation users have a lot at stake if the ATC system is privatized,” she added. “General aviation contributes more than $4 billion to the state’s total economic output and supports more than 23,000 jobs.”

“The Michigan and Minnesota aviation associations are both active legislative groups, and I commend their extensive efforts to support business aviation,” said Bolen. “Our work to stop ATC privatization is not done. With so much at stake, we encourage members of these local groups to continue their legislative activities at the state and national level.”