National Consumers League

Major consumer & passenger rights groups launch ad opposing air traffic privatization


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October 6, 2017

Contact: NCL Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud, John Breyault, (202) 207-2819, johnb@nclnet.org

Washington DC—Today, leading airline passenger, consumer and rural organizations, including National Consumers League, FlyersRights.org, Consumer Action, the Alliance for Aviation Across America and In The Public Interest launched an ad to set the record straight on the airlines' push to privatize the air traffic control system. The ad specifically aims to correct a number of misleading claims put forth by the airlines and their paid front groups that privatization would somehow benefit passengers or communities.

Under the airlines' privatization plan, oversight of air traffic control would be transferred from the FAA to a corporate board essentially controlled by industry with zero seats for consumer or passenger rights organizations. This unaccountable body would have unlimited power to raise fees and taxes on passengers, cut critical access to community airports and make decisions based on their own business priorities instead of in the interest of safety and the public.

“From major computer meltdowns, lost luggage and children, and dragging their passengers through the aisles of aircraft, the airlines have repeatedly demonstrated an inability to manage their own operations, let alone oversee the world’s busiest air traffic control system. They point the fingers at air traffic control, but the DOT’s own data confirm that the airlines themselves are responsible for the vast majority of delays” said Paul Hudson, President of FlyersRights.org

Notwithstanding the efforts by airline-backed lobbying and PR groups to mislead the public, a wide range of consumer, business, labor stakeholders and notable experts strongly oppose privatization.

“Our air traffic control system is a public good that should not be gifted over to the same big airlines that assault and drag paying customers off flights, shrink seats to medically unsafe proportions and invent increasingly outrageous new fees”; said Linda Sherry, Director of National Priorities at Consumer Action.

John Breyault, Vice President of Public Policy at National Consumers League stated: “In just the past few weeks we’ve witnessed big airlines engaging in troubling hurricane-related price gouging to go along with the ongoing passenger abuses and unsavory marketing and pricing practices that harm consumers. This industry continues to put profits before passengers; based on their track record, they would likely do the same if handed control of our air traffic system.”

“Privatizing air traffic control system would allow the airlines to run it for their own benefit and further direct investment and infrastructure away from thousands of smaller communities around the country, including many towns that have already lost commercial air service,” said Selena Shilad, Executive Director of the Alliance for Aviation Across America.

“Why would we take a critical piece of our national, public infrastructure and turn it over to one, self-interested private interest in the system, without any oversight from Congress? The airlines continue to be the only ones pushing for this risky idea, because they are the only ones that would benefit.  =Our national airspace system should be operated in the public’s best interest, not any one customer’s private interest,” stated Donald Cohen, Executive Director of In the Public Interest.   

To view the ad, click here 

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.