Washington, DC, Feb. 9, 2017 – National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen today issued the following statement, regarding comments made in conjunction with a meeting between President Donald Trump and several airline CEOs, which included discussion of creating a privatized Air Traffic Control (ATC) system, funded by user fees – a concept long pushed by the airlines.
“We’re delighted that, in today’s meeting, the president made clear that aviation modernization is important – that’s a goal with which we agree, and the business aviation community will continue to be at the forefront of aviation-modernization efforts,” Bolen said. “We very much welcome the opportunity to work with the new president and the Congress to advance this goal in a way that serves all Americans, not just those in the country’s largest cities with commercial airline hubs.
“That said, we are concerned that in today’s meeting, it appears that some airline interests wanted to shift the conversation away from taking a bipartisan approach to modernization, to focus instead on their decades-long objective of privatizing ATC, funding it with new user fees, and placing it under the governing control of a self-interested, airline-centric board of directors,” Bolen continued.
“The fact is, in this important debate, there are two sides,” Bolen added. “The president may have heard the airlines’ position today, but surveys of everyday Americans have repeatedly shown that, by a significant majority, citizens oppose the notion of creating a privatized ATC system. The concerns of these citizens are well-founded – after all, the nation’s aviation system is a public asset, intended to serve the entire public, including the people and businesses in the small towns and rural areas that rely on general aviation.
“If a select group of airline interests is given sweeping authority over the aviation system, decisions about a host of matters, including which cities and airports get served, could be left solely in the hands of those interests. That scenario opens the door for countless communities served by general aviation to be left behind.
“It’s clear that there are real and significant concerns about the notion of ATC privatization funded through new user fees. It’s important that the president hear from all voices in the debate over this matter, and not just from a small, special-interest group of airline CEOs,” Bolen concluded.