Congress is considering legislation that would update and modernize the nation’s air traffic control system in order to reduce flight delays, avoid congestion and make air travel safer.
The bill would transfer oversight of the air traffic control system away from the federal government, and into the hands of an independent nonprofit agency that is better able to finance projects and invest in new technology.
The air traffic controllers union and all major airlines in the U.S. support the bill, but one special interest group is threatening to throw a kink in the entire bill, the Washington Examiner reported, in an exclusive opinion editorial by Alan Clendenin.
The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), who represents many wealthy corporate and private jet owners, are frantically trying to block the bill, as the current system allows them to pay only a fraction of their share of ATC modernization costs to upgrade the system.
Major corporations represented by the NBAA include Honeywell, Monsanto, United Technologies and JPMorgan.
Clendenin, who is a founding member of the advocacy group, Flyers for Fairness, is a Democratic leader in Florida. He alleged that many NBAA members are already benefiting from taxpayer-subsidized loopholes:
This free-riding comes on top of the numerous taxpayer-subsidized loopholes already enjoyed by many NBAA members. For instance, Honeywell — a member of NBAA’s Leadership Council — has taken more than $400 million in subsidies over the past 20 years, and through a variety of tax-avoidance maneuvers, paid just a 15 percent corporate tax rate from 2008 to 2015 — far below the 35 percent federal rate.
This unfair system increasingly leaves ATC underfunded and forces travelers sitting in coach — and all American taxpayers — to pick up the tab while wealthy CEOs ride comfortably on their private jets. The NBAA is desperate to preserve this status quo, and is in the midst of an all-out lobbying war to kill the congressional reforms aimed at creating a modernized and equitably financed aviation infrastructure.
It is clear that an air traffic control system designed in the 1940s is not equipped to handle the demands of 21st-century air travel. Its obsolescence is causing more and more delays for American flyers. And without a more modern and efficient system, these travel headaches will only get worse. It is time for the NBAA to put the interests of the entire country first and support reforms to make air travel better and safer for all Americans.
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