Privatized Air-Traffic Control Awaits Takeoff in House
Published July 16, 2017 / Updated August 7, 2020

Privatized Air-Traffic Control Awaits Takeoff in House

The “21st Century AIRR Act” would take government out of the air-traffic-control business

by Chris Thomas

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Image via moogs, Flickr , and Creative Commons

Ever since Ronald Reagan cracked down on the Air Traffic Controllers’ Union, firing 11,345 controllers, the Republican Party has sought to privatize the task of organizing and overseeing the nation’s air-space. The latest attempt at this, the “21st Century AIRR Act” (H.R. 2997) would move the FAA’s air-traffic responsibilities to a not-for-profit private entity under government supervision and extend regulatory oversight of US airspace in general.

Why It Matters

The major proponents of the privatization of national airspace have been the four major airlines which control around 80% of domestic US capacity. Opponents argue that, under the terms of the bill, these airlines would be in a strong position to control the air traffic system and use it to deny access to smaller, low cost airlines, drive up fees (and profits) for the major carriers, and do little to address delays and cancellations.

Some conservative groups back the plan but support is far from unified. The Institute For Liberty called the plan “cronyism” and criticized it for not going far enough along the path to privatization. “ We do not support … the creation of entities that are some bizarre hybrid of governmental and private, since these generally contain the worst practices of both worlds.”

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Who’s Backing The Bill

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