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NBAA Outlines Opposition to ATC Privatization in National Publications, Radio Show

Aug. 21, 2017

Congress may be on August recess, but NBAA officials continue talking to national publications and radio shows, stressing the negative impact ATC privatization would have on business aviation, as the plan would essentially hand over the nation’s ATC system to a private entity, dominated by big airlines’ interests, and unaccountable to congressional oversight.

An article authored by NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen, which appeared in both AeroTime and Newsweek, countered airline claims that private aviation doesn’t pay its fair share of ATC system costs: “[Private aircraft] are taxed fully and legally, and system use is paid for the same way most Americans pay for the use of their cars on the nation’s roads – at the pump, through a fuel tax.”

He also wrote that NBAA fully supports modernization of the system, contrary to claims from the big airlines. “Everyone agrees on the need to modernize, including the thousands of entrepreneurs and companies that use aircraft as an essential business tool, which in turn supports more than a million jobs and $200 billion in economic activity,” he wrote. Read the op-ed in full.

In a piece appearing in The Hill, Bolen disputed a misleading opinion piece in support of ATC privatization that took unfair swipes at business aviation by pointing out that local communities stand the most to lose if the airlines win control of the ATC system: “Those on the losing end of this equation will be the countless citizens, companies and communities that rely on access to the aviation system through the mostly small, ‘general aviation’ aircraft used for business, civil services, humanitarian flights and a host of other needs.” Read The Hill op-ed in full.

Bolen, along with NBAA Senior Vice President of Communications Dan Hubbard, has appeared on radio talk shows across the county to discuss the issue.

Bolen told SiriusXM Satellite radio listeners that privatization could jeopardize the public’s access to a public system they paid for. “A number of conservative think-tanks, liberal think-tanks, consumer groups, agricultural groups, small-town mayors, general aviation – there is a lot of opposition to this airline takeover of the ATC monopoly,” he said. Listen to the Sirius XM interview.

He made similar comments on WKIP radio in Poughkeepsie, NY on the Kevin Miller show. Listen to the full Kevin Miller interview.

Earlier this month, Bolen explained to listeners of Westwood One radio network’s Jim Bohannon Show that while many people favor privatization of many government programs, most oppose ATC privatization: “We have public airspace and we want to make sure it serves the public,” he said. Listen to the Bohannan interview.

On Bloomberg News Radio, Bolen pushed back against the idea that other countries, such as Canada, have a privatized system, so why can’t the U.S. This country, he said, “has the largest, safest, most efficient, most diverse air transportation system in the world,” Bolen noted. “Why would the world leader follow other countries.” Also, he said, “In the United States, general aviation is just fundamental to the way of life, so many small medium and large companies relay on this mode of transportation.” Listen to the Bloomberg interview.

Meanwhile, Hubbard in an interview on KSSZ-FM radio in Columbia, MO, countered the notion that turning over the ATC system to a private panel will somehow lead to more modernization: “One of the things that makes our system great is that it is a public asset and that it is overseen by the public’s elected officials in Congress. And that ensures that all citizens and all communities have equal access to the nation’s aviation system.” Listen to the KSSZ interview.

Also, in an interview with Fred Holland on talk-show radio WTKI-FM in Huntsville, AL, Hubbard pointed out that airline control of the system would increase private aircraft hold and wait times while the airlines run the system to conduct their operations. “That’s troubling to us,” he said. Listen to the full WTKI interview.