White House Demonstrates Bold Leadership on Air Traffic Control Reform

WASHINGTON, June 5, 2017 Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, today applauded President Trump’s bold leadership in prioritizing the modernization of our nation’s air traffic control (ATC) infrastructure.

“Our nation’s infrastructure in the sky is a vital part of our economy, and the demand for air services in the United States is growing,” said A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio. “The President’s leadership means that we can look forward to legislation that gets government out of the way so we can modernize for the future and maintain our global leadership in aviation. Today’s White House announcement puts consumers first – ahead of the status quo.”

Flight delays cost the economy $25 billion last year, and our antiquated ATC system is responsible for almost half of those delays. The U.S. still uses WWII-era ground-based radar and paper strips to manage flights in the air, rather than GPS and advanced software. Benefits of modernizing the nation’s ATC system will include: enhanced safety, reduced delays, fuel savings, reduced emissions, increased capacity and greater operational efficiency.

Previous Republican and Democratic Administrations dating back 20 years have attempted to reform the nation’s ATC system. The new proposal would separate the ATC service provider from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and govern it under an independent, not-for-profit model.

The latter would be funded by the system users and capable of planning for long-term capital improvements, unlike today’s model which is slow and subject to the politics of the annual budgeting process. Under the new proposal, the FAA would focus on its role as safety regulator. Ensuring that the safety regulator is independent of the service provider eliminates the current conflict of interest that exists in having both be part of the same organization. More than 50 other nations have already reformed their ATC systems.


Airlines for America (A4A) members are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines, FedEx, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and UPS. Air Canada is an associate member.

A4A advocates on behalf of the leading U.S. airlines, both passenger and cargo carriers. A4A works collaboratively with industry stakeholders, federal agencies, the Administration, Congress, labor and other groups to improve aviation for the traveling and shipping public.

For more information about the airline industry, visit our website airlines.org and our blog, A Better Flight Plan, at airlines.org/blog.

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