Bolen Says ATC Privatization Could Lead to Airline Control

Who would benefit most from a private ATC system?

NBAA Ed Bolen
NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen, in written testimony to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, suggested that the solution to ATC's future is putting aside privatization.NBAA

In written testimony delivered yesterday to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen said the best solution to squelch the relentless in-fighting over the future of the U.S. air traffic control system is to set aside the idea of privatization altogether and simply find a better solution.

Bolen, as well as other leaders on the general aviation side of the ATC debate, believe handing the system over to a corporate entity in any form and for free is the same as handing the future of the entire industry to the airlines. Bolen said, “U.S. civil aviation supports 11.8 million jobs, $1.5 trillion in economic activity and contributes 5.4 percent to the nation’s gross domestic product.”

The NBAA president called the privatization debate a distraction. The airlines want to “wrest control of the nation’s air traffic control system away from the public’s elected representatives and give it away for free to a private board.” The real debate should focus on how to actually increase the ATC system’s efficiency, capacity and access. Bolen said while the current system is indeed a monopoly, users should also decide who can best operate the ATC monopoly and for whose benefit.

His testimony added, "allowing a private board to control the taxes and fees that fund our ATC system leaves the traveling public and business aviation open to uncontrolled fee increases. The big commercial airlines have already shown their ability to charge ever-increasing fees to customers …" Bolen concluded by reminding the House that there are serious Constitutional issues with giving away control of our nation's ATC system to a private entity beyond the reach of Congress.