A recent article about a bill to reform the nation’s aviation system contains several mischaracterizations about the proposal’s impact on regional airports like Newton City/County Airport.
While Newton airport manager, Brian Palmer, claims this proposal presents the “greatest single threat” to the future of the airport, it is the current status quo that most threatens small regional airports. When the federal government faced sequester in 2013, the FAA put contract and small towers first on its list of cutbacks. This new bill takes politics out of the ATC system and ensures fair skies for all by maintaining subsidies for regional airports and strengthening programs that support maintenance and infrastructure upgrades at smaller airports. The bill also maintains all current program contracts to guarantee fliers from rural areas do not see a disruption in service.
The bill’s most significant change seeks to move control of air traffic control (ATC) operations to an independent, non-profit board to better enable technology upgrades, increase efficiency and reduce delays. Palmer and Senator Jerry Moran claim this independence would hurt general aviation and unfairly benefit airlines. But all aviation stakeholders will be equally represented on the 13-seat board, and a modernized aviation system benefits all users. In further aid to general aviation, the bill exempts private planes from having to pay ATC fees.
Regional airports like Newton City/County Airport are vitally important to the nation’s aviation system. Palmer, Moran and others should support a plan that improves this system, not spread misinformation about it.
— Sean Williams, Vice President for State and Local Government Affairs at Airlines for America, Washington, DC