Washington, DC – Today, during the hearing on the AIRR Act, countless members and groups expressed their opposition to the bill on the grounds that it would leave consumers without a seat at the table, slash middleclass jobs, decrease access to air travel and hand over majority control to the airline industry.
Congressman Defazio: “The basis in America is the skies are a public asset available to all Americans without discriminatory charge.”
Congressman Young: “We’ve got basically four [airlines] now and if they’re going to run this FAA, I don’t think the consumer is going to get the right representation on that board.”
Congressman Nadler: “This is an extremely and risky venture that would hand over control to the airline industry.”
AFSCME: “This Aviation proposal goes too far if in any way Federal Employees are forced into a non governmental position.”
During the testimony, more information came about just how damaging the proposal is – jobs will be eliminated, CEOs will fly for free, and passengers will foot the bill. Particularly troubling moments included:
Airlines for America Chairman Nick Calio refused to support the addition of a consumer advocate to the private governing board.
Robert Poole, Director of Transportation Policy for the Reason Foundation said that if the new entity is not operating in a financially viable or sustainable way, consumers will simply have to pay more in fees
Chairman Shuster reiterated that CEOs will be exempt from fees as they use corporate jets, but that middle class Americans will have to pay fees set by an independent boar
And to ensure rural access to air travel? Chairman Shuster suggested that those airports adopt the Swedish ATC system where controller towers are operated remotely, eliminating jobs for rural communities.
Also, this morning, Rep. DeFazio released a GAO report that outlined the numerous challenges created by ATC privatization. The sum total of the challenges outlined–from transition challenges like developing an appropriate fee structure and creating appropriate financial risk-sharing mechanisms, to the long-term difficulties of appropriately dividing safety and operations responsibilities–indicate that this proposal raises more questions than it solves.