Air traffic privatization plan hits turbulence in Congress

DENVER, CO - JULY 14: An air traffic controller monitors flights while working in the Terminal Radar Approach Control center on July 14, 2011 at the Denver International Airport in Denver, Colorado. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), is marking 75 years of federal air traffic control in the United States today. Beginning with just 15 employees in 1936, the FAA now has some 15,000 air traffic controllers and technicians working nationwide. In 2010, the Denver International Airport was the 4th busiest airport in the world, with some 650,000 flights per year and 52 million passengers passing through the airport. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images) Restrictions

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s plan to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system is running into bipartisan opposition in Congress. Lawmakers fret the plan could raise costs for air travelers and hurt small airports.

Republican Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi said the plan “is a tough sell” in states like his, where small airports are common. Wicker told Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao at a hearing Wednesday that that “the sale needs to be made, and it needs to be made convincingly.”

Republican Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas said the administration’s plan would hurt “all but our largest airports nationwide” and remove needed congressional oversight.

Lawmakers from both parties also pointed to the unprecedented safety under the current system. Eight years have passed since the last fatal crash of a domestic airliner.