County leaders not on board with Trump air traffic plan

By Jonathan Delozier - and Jason Hawk

Ancient. Broken. Horrible.

Those are words President Donald Trump used earlier this month to describe the nation’s air traffic control system, which he intends to privatize.

On June 5, he announced plans to remove air traffic control from the authority of the Federal Aviation Administration, calling into question the future of the Cleveland Air Route Traffic Control Center here in Oberlin.

Located on Rt. 511, it is the third-busiest air traffic control site in the United States, monitoring fly-overs in airspace from Michigan to Maryland.

Trump’s plan drew fire last week from Lorain County commissioner Matt Lundy.

“Obviously, Oberlin plays a critical role with the air traffic control center there,” he said in a commissioners’ meeting. “I’ve been in touch with the National Air Traffic Controllers association and also local representatives. Air traffic controllers agree there needs to be an update in infrastructure and the need to modernize the system. However, they have reservations about reform being in the form of a for-profit or privatized model.”

The FAA says there are 7,000 aircraft in the skies at any given time, with 23,911 commercial flights every day.

There are 476 airport traffic control towers in the United States, but only 21 like Oberlin’s to handle the routes between. They watch over five million square miles of airspace.

Some 14,000 air traffic controllers could be affected by Trump’s proposed privatization plan.

Lundy said most airlines have pushed for air traffic control to be moved to the private sector.

“Delta Airlines stood out among all the other carriers and said they were opposed to privatization. According to their study, it would increase costs to consumers by around 30 percent,” he said. “With 300 jobs on the line in Oberlin, losing those would have a devastating economic impact on that community.”

Lundy and fellow commissioners — all Democrats — voted unanimously for a resolution to oppose privatization.

Jason Hawk and Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk and @DelozierNews on Twitter.

By Jonathan Delozier

and Jason Hawk