United States President Donald Trump has been calling for revoking the Federal Aviation Administration’s oversight of Air Traffic Control and, instead, giving control to a non-profit aviation body with representation from government officials, influencers in the aviation industry, and workers’ unions. In response to this cue from the executive branch, the Cheif Executive Officer of Delta Air Lines is publicly supporting the initiative and, in turn, creating industry consensus surrounding the need for a major overhaul.
On July 18th, Delta CEO Ed Bastian called the airline “huge proponents of the president’s agenda” and noted the absence of any other proposals for making improvements to the ATC. This is a stark contrast to Delta Air Lines’s previous opposition to the plan that prevented industry unity, exemplified in the long-standing legislative agenda of the trade group Airlines for America (A4A), around the critical issue. Delta previously withdrew from the A4A back in 2015, citing concerns regarding impacts on future operational costs.
Taking action on the plan, Congressman Bill Shuster of the House Transportation Committee has drafted the legislation needed to make ATC reform a reality. The bill is facing notable opposition from Congressional Democrats and some members of the businesses in the aviation community and general aviation as a whole. Opponents to the bill are utilizing language used by Delta Air Lines in their prior dismissals of the plan–notably describing the idea as an attempt at privatizing ATC and unfairly benefitting large airline carriers.
Now a staunch supporter, Bastion reaffirmed his approval by saying that the ATC requires such a method to make the necessary upgrades that could cost up to $50 billion over the next decade or so. This plan faces considerable challenges in the coming weeks–possibly months–and Delta will take credit for getting it off the ground with “100%” support.