Air traffic privatization plan hits turbulence in Congress

In this March 16, 2017 photo, air traffic controllers work in the tower at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. President Donald Trump is looking to shift responsibility for the system from the government to a private, nonprofit corporation run by airlines and other aviation interests. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

WASHINGTON (AP) — 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.