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Trump wants air traffic control operations privatized

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Author: The Associated PressSat, 2017-03-18ID: 1489774870304474200WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump is calling for privatizing the nation’s air traffic control operations in his budget proposal, a top priority of the airline industry.The proposal says spinning off air traffic operations from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and placing them under an “independent, non-governmental organization” would make the system “more efficient and innovative while maintaining safety.”There are about 50,000 airlines and other aircraft flights a day in the US. Both sides of the privatization debate say the system is one of the most complex and safest in the world. The FAA would continue to provide safety oversight of the system under a congressional privatization plan.Airlines have been lobbying vigorously for the change, saying the FAA’s NextGen program to modernize the air traffic system is taking too long and has produced too few benefits. Industry officials say that privatization would remove air traffic operations from the uncertainties of the annual congressional budget process, which have hindered the FAA’s ability to make long-term procurement commitments.The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), the union that represents the FAA’s 14,000 controllers, backed an unsuccessful congressional attempt at privatization last year. The union said it would evaluate Trump’s plan. Rural airline serviceTrump also called for eliminating subsidized air service to rural communities, many of which supported his election last year after he promised to create jobs.Trump’s proposal would sever an economic lifeline that enables rural communities to attract and keep businesses and jobs, officials in those communities said.The program has long been a target of conservatives who say the subsidies are too expensive for the relatively small number of passengers served. Elimination of the program would save about $175 million a year, according to the Trump administration.The Essential Air Service (EAS) program subsidizes airline flights to 111 communities in the 48 contiguous states that would otherwise have no scheduled service and which are at least 210 miles from the nearest hub airport, according to the Transportation Department. About 60 communities in the deep-red state of Alaska also receive subsidized service.Among other transportation programs serving rural communities targeted for elimination in Trump’s proposal is Amtrak’s long-distance trail service.
Main category: Business & Economy

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