NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Deregulating Transportation

November 19, 2002

Some analysts are recommending the removal of federal ownership and control from administration of air traffic control, airports and security.

They say the government should maintain its oversight of a nonprofit air traffic control system (ATC) if for no other reason than to reassure the public of its safety, but business operation of the aviation system would benefit passengers.

  • Having a private company operate the ATC under the supervision of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or some other agency would eliminate the existing conflict of interest between the mandate of the FAA to promote air travel and to ensure the safety of the system.
  • Federal authorities should give serious consideration to repealing the federal taxes on aviation, allowing airports to impose their own fees which could vary by time of day to reflect peak use.
  • This would give airports incentive to expand their capacity, and would lead to the introduction of technologies that would reduce delays.

Ironically, analysts say, federalizing airport screeners may produce less security than we enjoyed before September 11, because although the legislation specifies the new federal employees will not have the same civil service protections as other Department of Transportation employees, there will be a tendency over time to give them more employment security -- and firing incompetent workers will be much more difficult.

Source: Thomas Gale Moore, "Moving Ahead," Vol. 25, No. 2, Summer 2002, Regulation, Cato Institute.

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