Letters to Media

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Bolen Challenges Syndicated Columnist's ATC-Privatization Claims

July 30, 2017

When media figure John Stossel penned a recent opinion piece promoting ATC privatization, NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen was quick to respond, with a letter he sent to every newspaper publishing his syndicated column. “Let’s be clear: a privatized ATC represents nothing less than a giveaway of the nation’s aviation assets, worth billions in taxpayer dollars, to a new, private entity, that will essentially be governed by an airline-centric board,” Bolen said.

Read Bolen’s letter as it appeared in the Daily Press.

Letter: A Giveaway of the Nation’s Aviation Assets

EDITOR:

Your recent column from longtime Washington media figure John Stossel about privatizing air traffic control (Why Can’t We Fly Better?) may play well in some Inside-the-Beltway circles, but it unfortunately left readers without some key information about the idea.

Let’s be clear: a privatized ATC represents nothing less than a giveaway of the nation’s aviation assets, worth billions in taxpayer dollars, to a new, private entity that will essentially be governed by an airline-centric board. When this power-grab is complete, the airlines will run the system in their best business interests. Anyone who has watched the airlines’ long-standing behaviors knows that when their business interests come first, consumers, communities and competition often get left behind. For this same reason, there is ample reason to believe that innovation and efficiency could in many cases be stifled, not fostered in a privatized ATC system.

Ironically, Stossel is right on one point: Everyone wants to remain the world’s aviation leader, five, 10 or 25 years from now. But to do that, we should first focus on making smart investments in continuing upgrades, so that aviation in America keeps its aviation edge. It’s unfortunate that instead of focusing on that simple premise, opinion writers like yours are getting distracted by the highly questionable notion of ATC privatization.

Ed Bolen
President and CEO
National Business Aviation Association