Trump Promises ‘Big Changes’ During Sit-Down with Airline CEOs

The president’s first meeting with airline chief executives focuses on airport infrastructure improvements and ATC modernization.

Donald Trump Airlines
President Donald Trump met this morning with airline executives, promising "big changes" to the U.S. air travel system.CNN

In his first meeting with airline CEOs, President Donald Trump bemoaned the “regulatory morass” he says is responsible for stonewalling air traffic control modernization efforts and airport infrastructure improvements, but promised “big changes” in the way Washington deals with the air travel system in the United States.

Noting that the country has spent trillions of dollars on wars in the Middle East with “nothing” to show for it, the president complained that American airports have fallen to the “bottom rung” compared with those in other countries as he also lashed out at NextGen ATC modernization failures.

On the campaign trail, Trump often derided New York LaGuardia Airport, JFK and Los Angeles International as no better than those in “Third World countries.” At today’s meeting with the CEOs of Delta Air Lines, United, Southwest, JetBlue and Alaska Airlines, the president said airport and rail infrastructure in the United States has become “obsolete” and “we have bad roads.”

“We’re going to change all of that, folks,” he told airline and airport officials attending the breakfast meeting this morning. “You’re going to be so happy with Trump.”

The president did not address the hot-button issue of ATC privatization, but it is on the wish lists of several of the chief executives in attendance and has already come up in conversations between backers in Congress and incoming administration officials.

On NextGen, Trump said “many people,” including his personal pilot, have told him the technology the FAA is pursuing for ATC modernization is the “wrong stuff” and is “obsolete the day they order it.”

“My pilot, he is a smart guy, and he knows what’s going on. He said the government is using the wrong equipment and instituting a massive multibillion-dollar project using the wrong type of equipment," Trump said. "So let’s find out about that.”