Why an Air Traffic Control Corporation Makes Sense
Publication Date: March 2003
Publisher(s): Reason Foundation
Author(s): Robert W. Jr. Poole
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) recently issued a White Paper arguing against the "privatization" of air traffic control (ATC) services. This policy study responds to NATCA's paper.
Overall, the White Paper is off-target, in that much of its argument is directed against a form of privatization "outsourcing" which no one has seriously proposed for the national ATC system. The White Paper does acknowledge several examples of ATC reform overseas that do follow the models proposed for this nation: conversion of the FAA's existing ATC organization into a user-fee-supported business entity.
But instead of dealing seriously with this model, the White Paper simply takes potshots at three of the overseas ATC corporations. In doing so, the paper provides no quantitative data or analysis. Its case is presented only in the form of anecdotes and assertions.
In short, the NATCA White Paper is the furthest thing from an objective analysis of the issues involved in reforming air traffic control. Rather, it is best understood as a plea to maintain the status quo: a highly labor intensive system run for the benefit of its employees rather than its users (the customers). The global track record of ATC corporatization is powerful and positive, and offers valuable guidance for reforming the U.S.