I am responding to a recent letter from Sean Williams, who works for an airline lobbying group that spends millions of dollars to convince Congress to privatize the nation’s air traffic control (ATC) system and hand over control to big airlines and their allies.

Under their plan, a private corporation run by an airline-dominated board of directors would decide which airports get the best flight routings and which planes have access to our skies. The same airlines that charge travelers $200 to change a ticket or $75 for a decent seat would have the power to tax the flying public to pay for the ATC system.

When Williams argues that a private ATC corporation would “implement modern technology,” he ignores the dozens of computer meltdowns in recent years resulting from the airlines’ chronic lack of investment in their decrepit computer systems.

The Government Accountability Office, an independent, nonpartisan agency, found that taxpayers might have to bail out the corporation if it cannot pay to operate a safe system. The GAO also couldn’t confirm that a private ATC system would be capable of protecting national security. We shouldn’t jeopardize the world’s safest aviation system with a handout to major airlines.


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