To no one’s surprise, those in favor of splitting air traffic control from the FAA are busy planning their next move. After a last-minute grassroots lobbying effort blocked an amendment snuck into the FAA reauthorization bill passed last month that would have laid the legal groundwork for such a move, the CEO of one of the U.S.’s largest airlines was musing about the next steps in front of a friendly audience at the Economic Club of Washington earlier this month. EAA caught a story in Politico that quoted United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz as saying it’s already a topic of conversation when CEOs meet. “The airline industry is trying to formulate what the next plan would be,” Munoz told Politico “There’s an outline coming together, but it’ll be some time before we all get aligned around it.”
He further said that once the airlines decide what they want they’ll “provide that input and then work with the government to make that move forward.” Well, forewarned is forearmed so EAA says it’s not going to be that easy. “As EAA noted when the ATC privatization proposal in the House was withdrawn earlier this year, any celebration should be tempered with a guarded eye toward efforts by proponents to revitalize the effort in the future,” it said in its recent story. The plan that has so far been thwarted involves setting up a not-for-profit corporation that raises its funding directly from those using the national airspace system. The “user pay” model is opposed by general aviation groups that say the resulting corporation will turn over control of the system to the airlines. “EAA and other GA organizations support the continued modernization of the national airspace system, but not at the cost of equal access to the airspace or minimizing GA’s important role within the nation’s aviation infrastructure,” EAA said in its report.