Government Affairs Transportation committee approves ATC privatization legislation By Robert Silk / February 12, 2016 Share 1 Photo Credit: Shutterstock -- The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved legislation Thursday that would transfer authority over U.S. air traffic control (ATC) from the FAA to a nonprofit corporation. The bill, which passed 32-26 along partisan lines, will next go before the full House of Representatives. For it to become law, the Senate would also have to approve the privatization measure, which is part of a comprehensive six-year FAA reauthorization bill called the AIRR Act. The FAA is currently operating under short-term funding legislation that expires March 31. “The AIRR Act provides the transformational reform necessary to bring our antiquated air traffic system into the modern era, and allow America to lead the world again in aviation,” transportation committee chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) said in a prepared statement after the vote. The nonprofit corporation is modeled after Canada's ATC authority, Nav Canada. It would be charged with speeding the U.S.’s transition from radar-based technology to the GPS-based NextGen system. It would be overseen by a board comprised of two appointees of the federal government, two representatives of mainline airlines, two general aviation representatives, one ATC union representative and one representative of airline pilots. The airline trade group Airlines for America has been its chief backer. But the bill also won the support of the air traffic controllers’ union on Wednesday. Opponents include Delta Air Lines, consumer groups, and the Regional Airline Association, which hasn’t been allocated any representation on the proposed non-profit’s board. Supporters of privatization argue that it would speed technological upgrades and while removing ATC from the uncertainty of the highly politicized appropriations process in Congress. Opponents say that the process of reorganizing how the ATC is administered would delay the implementation of NexGen while reducing accountability to the public.During the course of Thursday’s debate, the transportation committee considered about 75 amendments to the bill and approved more than half of them. Among those that got through, said the Travel Technology Association, was a proposal by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (D-Fla.) to do away with the federal full-fare advertising rule implemented by the Department of Transportation in 2012.The rule requires anyone selling airline tickets to post the total price in print and online advertising, inclusive of taxes and fees. The AIRR Act, now inclusive of the Curbelo amendment, would allow airlines, travel agents and vacation packagers to post base fares on websites and in advertisements, so long as other costs are separately disclosed. The Travel Technology Association, ASTA and Business Travel Coalition all oppose the Curbelo amendment. Defeated during the debate Thursday, according to USA Today, was an amendment proposed by transportation committee member Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) that would have directed the FAA to set seat-size minimums on commercial airliners. The AIRR Act faces a battle before the full House. Both parties’ senior members of the House Appropriations Committee have come out against it, saying privatization would result in less oversight and accountability.