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Miami Controllers Ask FAA Administrator Blakey: Why Should It Only Be Safe to Fly in Alaska? - (8/26/2003)

MIAMI – Lori Rebhan, president of the local chapter of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association at Miami International Airport, reacting to this morning’s visit by Federal Aviation Administrator Marion Blakey in a ceremony for the airport’s new runway, issued the following statement denouncing Bush Administration-inserted language in federal legislation privatizing air traffic control at 69 towers including two in South Florida:

“Before the administrator wraps up her visit to South Florida, we invite her to visit with FAA controllers at nearby Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport and Kendall-Tamiami Airport to see first-hand the need to keep these facilities in the hands of federal controllers and not sell the tower out to the lowest bidder. These two airports and the other 67 on the White House chopping block are too important to the level of safety assured by federal control of the air traffic system.”

“We also want to know from the Administrator why two Alaska towers that were originally on the list were exempted. Madame Administrator, how can you defend a system that has one standard for Alaska and another for the other 49 states? If privatization does not pose a threat to safety and efficiency, as you claim, why would the Chairman of the House Transportation Committee exempt his own airport in Alaska?”

“Air traffic controllers at Fort Lauderdale Executive and Tamiami work 414,000 takeoffs and landings each year. Alaska’s two towers on the list, Juneau and Merrill Field, control 305,000 takeoffs and landings yearly. It does not seem that the decision to exempt the Alaska towers from privatization and not the South Florida towers was not based on any kind of sound air traffic control reasoning.”

“In September, Congress has a chance to listen to the majority of its constituents and end efforts to privatize air traffic control and jeopardize the safety of the best air traffic control system in the world. We urge all members of Congress to stop privatization and stand up for the safety of the flying public.”

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