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Air Traffic Controllers Oppose Outsourcing

By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis – The Bush Administration wants to privatize control tower operations at 69 small U.S. airports, including two in the St. Louis area. Local air traffic controllers say the plan will jeopardize safety.

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association, the union representing FAA controllers at Spirit of St. Louis Airport, is urging Congress not to approve the President's plan.

Union spokesman Ray Kerr says control tower operations should remain a function of the federal government.

"Privatizing air traffic control will put companies focused on cutting corners in charge of landing planes," Kerr said. "That's clearly an unacceptable option for the flying public."

The administration maintains private contractors can do the job just as well, but at lower cost.

Parks Downtown Airport in Cahokia, Illinois would also be affected by the measure.