January 26, 2016

Contact: Julia Alschuler

(202) 223-9513


New coalition, Americans Against Air Traffic Privatization, to deliver a petition signed by 130,000 Americans who want to maintain safety of current system and protect workers and travelers from arbitrary layoffs and cost increases

Washington, DC  – Today, numerous advocacy groups, joined by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), member of the Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation, and Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), member of the T&I Committee, announced the formation of a new coalition: Americans Against Air Traffic Privatization (AAATP). AAATP members also announced plans to deliver a petition to Congress from over 130,000 Americans who oppose the privatization of the Air Traffic Control (ATC) system. The coalition will launch a campaign that reflects the view that thousands of Americans affirmed in the petition: any FAA reauthorization plan should retain the ATC within the FAA and restore long-term, stable funding to the air traffic control system.

A congressional plan to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system would disrupt one of the safest air travel systems in the world and lead to job losses for workers, a new coalition of groups said today. Privatization of the air traffic control system also would create inefficiencies that would slow down implementation of programs like NextGen that have been launched to improve air travel, the groups said. In addition, a privatized system would:

  • Jeopardize safety by needlessly disrupting one of the safest and largest Air Traffic Control systems in the world
  • Eliminate middle class jobs by allowing a corporation to arbitrarily cut the ATC work force
  • Increase costs for passengers by allowing an unregulated corporation to arbitrarily set fee rates
  • Cause job loss and limit necessary access to air travel in rural communities
  • Create inefficiencies and disrupt stability by creating bureaucratic silos and formal separation of air traffic from safety officials 

"The Republicans' proposals for privatizing the air traffic control system would set a very wrong course for our aviation system and the flying public," Congressman Cummings said. "I commend Americans Against Air Traffic Privatization for working to help ensure this ideologically driven effort never gets off the ground."

“An FAA reauthorization bill that includes severing and privatizing Air Traffic Control has not emerged, but, as petitions submitted today from the public demonstrate, the long suspense has understandably fed fears for public safety, loss and downgrading of middle class jobs, and increased costs passed on to passengers—unacceptable tradeoffs,” Norton said.  “As a Member who once practiced constitutional law, I seriously question whether Congress can constitutionally delegate air traffic control to a private, even non-profit, entity.  Yet, there is considerable frustration about the dysfunction of the current FAA, which has been repeatedly victimized by the chronic delays and cuts in the appropriations process even before the dangerous sequester cuts.  We are long past due for serious discussions between Democrats and Republicans that could produce a bill that would pass both the House and Senate.”

Americans Against Air Traffic Privatization (AAATP) is composed of several groups that represent millions of Americans. Founding members include Public Citizen, People Demanding Action, Daily Kos, Progressive Congress, American Family Voices, and the Courage Campaign.

The coalition will advocate on behalf of passengers and the middle-class workers who keep them safe by pushing to retain air traffic control operations under the FAA and create a pathway for the FAA to move forward with long-term capital planning without relinquishing congressional oversight or allowing a corporate entity to slash government jobs. The groups argued that Congressional oversight of the nation’s aviation system is necessary to ensure that funding and governance decisions are made in the public’s interest.

Julia Alschuler, coalition spokesperson, said:  “An FAA reauthorization package that puts our air traffic control system into the hands of an untested and unaccountable entity is not in the interest of America’s air passengers and workers. We cannot afford to experiment with a new system that will inevitably create additional bureaucratic delays to the implementation of new technologies that our system needs. When Canada and the UK privatized their air traffic systems, passenger fees skyrocketed. American passengers simply cannot afford Rep. Shuster’s plan.”

Chris Bowers, executive campaign director at Daily Kos, said: "This will make lots of people's lives worse. For one thing, air travel will become even more frustrating and awful for tens of millions of Americans. For another, thousands of working people will have lower wages and less job security. What’s clear from the petition is that people know exactly how bad a plan this is—and we want to make sure Congress listens to them.”

Andrea Miller, executive director of People Demanding Action, said: “We’ve seen this movie before: Privatizers push for a system that they promise is more cost-effective, but it ultimately increases costs for consumers and lines the pockets of an unaccountable corporation. What's particularly unfortunate in this situation is that the current system is the safest in the world, and privatizing it risks creating a less safe system – all while laying off workers and charging the American people more for it. American consumers won’t be fooled by a proposal that leaves them less safe and lines the pockets of companies, then leaves taxpayers on the hook should anything go wrong.”

Susan Harley, deputy director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, said: "Moving forward with a proposal to privatize our air traffic control system is a recipe for increased costs for passengers and worker layoffs. Right now, the American air traffic control system is safe and efficient, but that would not necessarily be the case if it were put into the hands of a new corporate monopoly. It would be a grave mistake for the U.S. to gamble on an unaccountable privatized air traffic control system."

Olivia Alperstein, communications and policy associate at Progressive Congress, said: "A privatized air traffic control system would mean decreased oversight, loss of jobs for Americans, and higher costs for airline passengers. Rural communities that rely on smaller airports for revenue would lose significant business. This is a community issue, and this is also national safety issue. The ATC works incredibly hard to keep our airways free from threats and to prevent tragedies. Without that oversight, a deregulated, privatized air traffic control system would leave the safety of millions of passengers up in the air."

Eddie Kurtz,  executive director of Courage Campaign, said: "The current scheme of anti-union Republicans and airline CEOs to privatize our Air Traffic Control system is a clear-cut case of our representatives valuing corporations’ bottom lines over the safety and well-being of American travelers and workers. Rather than attempting to fix a system that isn’t even broken, Congress should focus on securing long-term funding for the FAA so it can make needed equipment and technology updates, which would ensure that passengers stay safe and an experienced and skilled workforce can continue to manage our skies."

About Americans Against Air Traffic Privatization (AAATP)

Americans Against Air Traffic Privatization (AAATP) is comprised of several groups that represent millions of Americans. Founding members include Public Citizen, People Demanding Action, Daily Kos and the Courage Campaign. The coalition will advocate on behalf of passengers and the middle class workers who keep them safe by pushing to retain Air Traffic Control operations under the FAA. Public Citizen and Daily Kos each launched online petitions in December, and given the overwhelming response, the coalition is launching to ensure that there was an ongoing and concerted effort to remind Congress that Americans oppose privatization schemes.

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