AVweb Crawls The Trenches Of Privatization

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

The Fight For Every Vote...

With a couple of weeks to go before an extended funding deadline, the lobbying equivalent of trench warfare has taken over the battle for the FAA Reauthorization Bill as those on both sides of the Air Traffic Control privatization issue launch a vote-by-vote campaign to get their version passed. Congress agreed to extend the FAA's funding authority for a month beyond the Sept. 30 expiration of the previous legislation while the privatization issue is sorted out. A prominent Ohio senator found himself directly in the line of fire last Thursday when the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) got wind that Ohio Republican Mike DeWine might be waffling on his previous support to maintain ATC as a government-run function. In a conference call arranged by NATCA with Ohio reporters and a few aviation publications, including AVweb, NATCA President John Carr said he wants DeWine to know there is public support for keeping ATC in government hands. "We want to shore up support for our delegation," Carr said. DeWine was one of 10 Republican senators who supported a version of the reauthorization bill that prevented further privatization of air traffic control services, helping the measure pass. But the House/Senate conference committee's final version of the bill, issued in late July, allowed the contracting out of an additional 69 so-called VFR towers. Since then, NATCA has been running a flat-out campaign to have Congress reject the bill as written and so far it seems to have the upper hand. Carr said NATCA's polling indicates 80 percent of Americans favor keeping ATC a government function and he said he hopes wavering politicians like DeWine are mindful of that. A coalition of consumer groups has joined NATCA. Winnifred DaPalma, of the Public Citizen's Congress Watch, told the conference call that Americans want the government looking after them in the air. "When people get on an airplane in this country, they want to know that the entire security process is being operated in the public interest," she said.