U.S. President Donald Trump (R) speaks before signing a decision memo and a letter to members of Congress outlining a plan for privatizing the nation's air traffic control system, in the East Room of the White House, in Washington DC, on June 5, 2017. [Photo: Imagine China]
U.S. President Donald Trump made a proposal on Monday to privatize the country's air traffic control system as he unveiled his infrastructure initiative.
"We'll launch this air travel revolution by modernizing the outdated system of air traffic control. It's about time!" said Trump, kicking off his “infrastructure week”.
The U.S. President also blamed the outdated system for unacceptable delays at airports and long waiting hours on the tarmac, while also saying these delays are costing "billions and billions of dollars."
"At a time when every passenger has GPS technology in their pockets, our air traffic control system still runs on radar and ground-based radio systems that they don't even make anymore, they can't even fix anymore, and many controllers must use slips of paper to track our thousands and thousands of planes that are up in the air," said Trump.
Under his plan, the air traffic control system will be run by a self-financing, non-profit organization that will cost taxpayers not a single penny.
"Under this new plan, the Federal Aviation Administration will focus firmly on what it does best -- safety. A separate non-profit entity would be charged with ensuring route efficiency, timely service, and a long-awaited reduction in delays," said Trump.
The changes are expected to save fuel, improve safety and lower operations costs, according to the administration.
The move was hailed by vice president Mike Pence as a new era of infrastructure.
However, the plan has met with immediate criticism from Democrats who called Trump's efforts a giveaway to wealthy investors at the expense of everyday Americans.
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer issued a statement on Monday, saying the plan means the President tolls from one end of America to the other.
He said that huge profits for financiers will be repaid by the average driver, worker and citizen.
Privatization of air traffic control system has long had strong support among the country's airlines, and Republicans have advocated for it for years. And countries like Canada, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and Switzerland are running their air traffic control systems through the private sector.