How Trump's air traffic plan could cost you


US President Donald Trump signs principles of proposed reforms to the air traffic control system during an event at the White House in Washington, DC, U.S. June 5, 2017.

American Airlines Group Inc., the world's largest carrier, said it looked forward to working with the Trump administration "to make air travel cleaner, safer and more efficient".

The more remarkable feat is how many in the industry agree on the basics: The airline trade group supports a spinoff, and previous year so did the air-traffic controller's union, which said it will evaluate the specifics of any bill.

The proposal says a board made up of airline, union and airport officials would oversee the non-profit entity.

"But after billions and billions of tax dollars spent and the many years of delays, we're still stuck with an ancient, broken, antiquated, terrible system that doesn't work".

Trump called the ongoing, years-long transition to a satellite-based ATC technology called Next Generation Air Transportation System "a total waste of money".

A similar FAA proposal two years ago died on the House floor, but Shuster said he believes Trump's election proves taxpayers want outside-the-box thinking, and Democrats would see value in a broader infrastructure package that might link some of the cities they represent.

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Privatizing the air traffic control system in the United States is not a new idea; it has been tried before, however, the Senate quashed the plan. The new entity would be governed by a board of directors, including representatives for airlines, unions, airports and others.

The White House said that the new structure, which would be financed by tariffs on air tickets, would enable the transition to the use of Global Positioning System technology - instead of radar - to coordinate the country's air traffic control, a move that it said would create more direct routes.

US airlines have been campaigning for decades to separate air traffic control operations from the FAA and have also argued that FAA efforts to modernize the air traffic system is taking too long and has produced too few benefits.

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran is concerned that the plan will hurt small airports. Then, last year, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. Bill Shuster, a Republican from Pennsylvania, introduced a bill that would have privatized air traffic control.

The radar system still in use has its roots in World War II technology, and parts of the communications system still use paper.

The letter says the groups have concerns about user fees, among other things, that are "based on our operating experiences in these foreign systems and impact they have had on general aviation".

Trump plans to travel to Cincinnati on Wednesday to lay out his $1 trillion plan of new infrastructure investments. Gary Cohn, Trump's chief economic adviser, told reporters ahead of Monday's announcement that privatization would help reduce travel times and fuel costs.