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Mayors protest air traffic privatization

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The Alliance for Aviation Across America released a letter to Congress from over 115 mayors in all 50 states expressing concern about the impact of air traffic control privatization on communities across the country, especially those in rural regions of the country.
Mayor Kent Guinn of Ocala is among those who signed the letter.
For these communities, local airports and general aviation represent a vital connection for small businesses, farms, emergency responders and other critical services. This proposal to privatize the air traffic control system, which is being pushed by the big, commercial airlines, would put this system under the purview of a private board of mostly commercial interests which would direct everything from taxes and fees, to airport investments and access.
This group of more than 100 mayors is only the latest in a growing number of voices raising concerns about the proposal to privatize the air traffic control system. Consumer advocates, free market groups, major committees in Congress, chambers of commerce, and businesses have all voiced concerns about this proposal.  In addition, the American people disapprove of this idea by an overwhelming 62 percent.
The full text of the letter is below.
Dear Member of Congress:
As you debate reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), I write to ask you to reject any risky plans to privatize our air traffic control system and take away Congressional oversight of this important public system.
Over the last year, proposals have recently been forwarded to put this vital infrastructure under the control of a private entity dominated by the commercial airlines.  On behalf of the tens of thousands of communities around the country, we are concerned about the very real and dire ramifications of eliminating Congressional oversight of this public air transportation infrastructure.
For tens of thousands of communities such as ours around the country, we depend on our local airport and all sectors of transportation to reach far-off markets and access critical services such as law enforcement, disaster relief, and medical care.  Small aircraft and airports are utilized on a daily basis to help transport blood and organs to residents in rural communities, reunite veterans back from overseas with their families, maintain power lines, and help our companies reach customers in far-off markets, among many other priorities.
Privatization would hand over decisions about infrastructure funding, taxes and fees, consumer complaints, noise, and many other priorities, to a board of private interests dominated by the commercial airlines. These are the same airlines that have cut back flights to smaller communities by more than 20 percent in recent years, and have stated their intent to divert investment from small and mid-sized communities to large ones where the airlines are most profitable.
We are also concerned about costs and access.  For example, the Canadian, privatized system, which is often held up as the system the U.S. should emulate, is more expensive than the system we have in the U.S. by miles flown.  In the U.K., that system has seen “more delays, higher fares and reduced connectivity” at London’s airports since privatization.  So while we all agree that modernizing our air traffic control system and investing in American infrastructure should be among our highest priorities, privatization is not the answer.
We look forward to working with you throughout this process to ensure that our air transportation system protects communities of all sizes and keeps passengers flying safely and efficiently.
Mayors of the following Florida cities also signed the letter: Lake Wales, Deland, Gainesville, Fernandina Beach, Naples, and Zephyrhills.
Formed in 2007, the Alliance for Aviation Across America is a non-profit, non-partisan coalition of more than 6,300 individuals representing businesses, agricultural groups FBO’s, small airports, elected officials, charitable organizations, and leading business and aviation groups that support the interest of the general aviation community across various public policy issues.