NFFE Continues Fight Against Air Traffic Control Privatization


The National Federation of Federal Employees is continuing to work diligently in our ongoing effort to ensure that the U.S. Air Traffic Control system remains to be operated solely for the public’s benefit and safety, not for the benefit of wealthy airline CEOs that will operate a privatized system. Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Bill Shuster (R-PA) has successfully introduced the “21st Century AIRR Act” (H.R. 2997), although it has been met with a strong wave of opposition from both sides of the aisle, as well as backlash from hundreds of unions and general aviation groups.

NFFE and its coalition partners are working tirelessly on Capitol Hill, lobbying both Democrats and Republicans to vote “no” on the dangerous and profiteering privatization of our country’s Air Traffic Control System. However, Chairman Shuster has the support of President Trump, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and the Federal Aviation Administration’s legislative affairs team, and it is likely that his marquee bill will reach the House Floor. In his efforts to have the AIRR Act pass through the House, Shuster is pushing for the support of Democrats as well as moderate Republicans, but NFFE and our coalition partners are speaking with the same members so that they understand the devastating consequences of privatization.

Under a private corporation—one controlled by the major airlines—air traffic efficiency and safety risks will grow as the major airlines will place more planes in the air in the pursuit of profit. If the AIRR Act passes, the federal workforce that now oversees the air traffic control system will become private sector employees under the control of the airlines. There is little doubt that this move will result in reduced pay, cuts to training programs, and lower safety standards. Although this private corporation will tout the saving of tax dollars, airlines will pass along any costs to flying passengers who will decide fees per ticket without the oversight or consent of Congress as currently required. Even conservative Republicans have signaled they will vote against the bill because they are worried regional and community airports will be sidelined by large airlines, decreasing flights and access to rural and nonmetropolitan areas.

“Although we are pleased with the progress we have been making in our discussions with House Representatives, we understand that Republicans are trying to pass this dangerous legislation for political purposes, to show that they can actually get something done,” stated NFFE National President Randy Erwin. “It is crucial that we continue our talks with Members in the House so they realize that this profiteering legislation will destroy air travel safety and airline competitiveness, which should not be unethically exchanged for a small political victory.”

NFFE is asking all union members to continue contacting their House Representatives and to do so as soon as possible if they have not already. If and when the AIRR Act reaches the house floor, we need to ensure that our elected officials know that their constituents do not support privatizing their country’s Air Traffic Control system.  

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