NATCA Warns Of Privatization...

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FAA Funding Woes A Prelude

The federal government is softening up the aviation community and public for a Canadian-style privatization of air traffic control, the president of the controllers union alleged Wednesday. John Carr, President of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), said the recent FAA public relations campaign alleging diminishing resources (particularly from the Airline and Airway Trust Fund) and rising costs is similar to the Canadian government's tactics in the 1990s that led to the formation of Nav Canada, the private company that now runs the airspace system and charges user fees on a cost-recovery basis. Carr alleged the FAA is "looking to the north" as it prepares for its reauthorization and the expiration of the trust fund in 2007. "The FAA's solution is user fees, privatization and contracting out," Carr told a telephone news conference on Wednesday. And NATCA will be bringing its views to a TV near you, very soon. Carr made his comments as the union launched its own PR campaign called Fly Us Safe, which will feature television and Internet ads pointing out what it says are dangerous deficiencies in the FAA's management of the system. Carr agreed that diminishing contributions from general revenue are partly to blame for the financial stress the FAA is under but he said the FAA doesn't seem to be fighting aggressively for more money from the administration. In recent statements, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey has said that there is now no link between the funding of the system and those who use it. But Carr said the airspace system is used by all Americans and they should all pay a share. He said there's a "fundamental debate about the federal government's role" in the airspace system and the union is ready to engage in that debate.