President Trump is proposing to privatize the nation’s air-traffic control system. Not a bad idea. Excerpt:
President Trump, in a speech Monday, promised to replace the current government-owned and operated air traffic control system with a private “self-financing, non-profit organization” relying on user fees, not taxes, to fund itself.
The idea is not new. Canada, the U.K. and Germany are among the roughly 50 countries that privatized air traffic control.
It has been a long-fought goal of libertarians like Bob Poole, senior transportation analyst for the Reason Foundation (the non-profit that publishes this website). Poole has argued since the 1970’s the “high-tech 24/7 service business” that is air traffic control “is a poor fit for a tax-funded bureaucracy housed within a safety regulatory agency.”
Poole proposed what Trump is now embracing, dumping the Federal Aviation Administration-run system with a non-profit air traffic control entity less bureaucratic, more cost-effective, and ultimately more responsive to consumer needs.
As a 2016 Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report found, the FAA has done a pretty terrible job managing and modernizing a system upon which some two million air travelers every day rely.
Despite repeated attempts by Congress to reform the FAA’s management, personnel, and organizational practices, its “costs continue to rise while operational productivity has declined,” the report concluded.
Canada thought this was a good idea, and it turns out they were right. Here’s the solution.
The airlines are for this. The pilot’s union is for it. Canada did it with considerable success. So did the UK. Ditto Germany and France. New Zealand did it in the 1980s, and as the linked Reason article points out, they saw their “...air traffic control system go from losing $5.5 million a year to turning a $2.3 million profit in just a year after privatization.”
There are no good reasons not to do this; we can modernize, we can increase efficiency, we can reduce cost. Who could be against this?
Well, the loony old bat from Frisco, Nancy Pelosi, for one; she said privatization would “hand control of one of our nation’s most important public assets to special interests and the big airlines.”
For the political Left – and Pelosi is so far to the left, she needs inserts in her left shoe to stand straight – government is always the answer. In this case the history of privatization speaks pretty eloquently. Hopefully Congressional Republicans will grow a pair and push this through; let Queen Nancy howl. Success speaks for itself.