Controllers protest privatization

The union that represents more than 15,000 air traffic controllers has launched a campaign to protest the potential privatization of their profession.

Off-duty controllers at airports nationwide distributed leaflets expressing their concerns to passengers Dec. 20.

The outreach effort follows the Federal Aviation Administration's decision to declare air traffic control a commercial activity, rather than an inherently governmental function.

Union officials believe the change opens the door to outsourcing controller jobs.

"Commercial activity sure sounds a lot like privatization to me," National Air Traffic Controllers Association President John Carr said, speaking at a news conference at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

Under the Federal Activities Inventory Reform Act of 1998, agencies must identify all functions they consider suitable for outsourcing to the private sector. The Transportation Department's latest list, which includes the FAA's information, was released Dec. 9.

FAA officials maintain that they have no intent to privatize air traffic control, but the union is unconvinced.

Earlier this year, President Bush deleted the phrase "an inherently governmental function," describing air traffic control, from a Dec. 7, 2000, executive order. That omission raised alarms within the union ranks.

"Privatization will introduce a profit motive or other financial pressures into a system whose current imperative is safety," Carr said. "We have seen this happen in other countries that have tried [this], and we are determined to prevent it from happening here."


  • Defense
    Ryan D. McCarthy being sworn in as Army Secretary Oct. 10, 2019. (Photo credit: Sgt. Dana Clarke/U.S. Army)

    Army wants to spend nearly $1B on cloud, data by 2025

    Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said lack of funding or a potential delay in the JEDI cloud bid "strikes to the heart of our concern."

  • Congress
    Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) at the Hack the Capitol conference Sept. 20, 2018

    Jim Langevin's view from the Hill

    As chairman of of the Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committe and a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rhode Island Democrat Jim Langevin is one of the most influential voices on cybersecurity in Congress.

Stay Connected


Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.