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Trump announces plan to privatize air traffic control

Andrew Harnik / AP

Flanked by Secretaries of Transportation past and present, President Trump kicked off a week of infrastructure announcements today with an "air travel revolution" — a plan to privatize the nation's air traffic control system via an independent non-profit entity spun off from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Why he's starting here: A White House aide said the administration viewed the ATC privatization plan as "low hanging fruit" because House Transportation Chair Bill Shuster, who was in attendance for the White House event today, already had a plan ready to go.

QuoteHonestly, they didn't know what the hell they were doing. A total waste of money. President Trump on Obama administration attempts to fund the nation's air traffic control system

What you need to know:

  • The implementation: Trump will need congressional approval to make these changes to the air traffic control system. His announcement today included what looked like a bill signing, but it was just a list of principles to be submitted to Congress.
  • The reasoning: The administration says the new entity will be able to adopt technology more quickly and better allocate capital resources, allowing it to reduce flight delays, save fuel, pass on lower prices to consumers, and enhance safety.
  • The structure: A 13-person corporate board — initially stocked with representatives from airlines, unions, general aviation, and airports — that can reconstitute itself as it sees fit.
  • The timeline: If approved by Congress, the White House hopes to implement the plan within three years but noted that the president can opt to extend the transition.

What else is coming this week on infrastructure:

  • Wednesday: an event in Cincinnati on inland waterways
  • Thursday: the White House is hosting governors and mayors to talk infrastructure
  • Friday: an event at the Department of Transportation on permitting reform