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Kick Off Summer, Kick Start Air Traffic Control Reform

When your bags are packed and a treasured holiday destination is just hours away, delays – whether on the road or in the air – aren’t any fun. Some aviation delays, like those caused by Mother Nature, are beyond human control and simply require patience and flexibility. Others, namely those caused by outdated technology, are avoidable and need to be addressed without further delay.

While countries like Canada, Australia and Vietnam have been using satellite-based technology to manage their air traffic, the U.S. continues to play catch up. Stops and starts in appropriations funding, combined with sequestration and other issues, have negatively impacted long-term implementation of Air Traffic Control (ATC) reform.

Today’s antiquated technology is costing passengers time and money. Cities and airports aren’t any further apart today than 20 years ago, yet Jeff Smisek, Chairman and CEO of United Airlines, recently reminded Congress that a flight from Washington Reagan National Airport to Newark’s Liberty International Airport that once took less than an hour is now scheduled for an hour and half because of delays with ATC.

The White House and Congress continue to make the case for improvements to our ATC system that will reduce delays, cut fuel use and stimulate economic growth. They are exactly right, as are the chorus of elected officials from both parties and others like airports and air traffic controllers that also agree. Fortunately, the upcoming FAA reauthorization provides a rare opportunity to make changes and allow America’s aviation system to be the envy of the world.

When airport delays occur, it is not because the airport tax isn’t high enough or there is not enough airport funding. Delays occur due to weather and an outdated system in need of an overhaul. We hope Congress will roll up their sleeves this summer and enact ATC reform so passengers can enjoy more time at their destination and experience less time getting there.

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