News Releases

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The Bush Administration has relented in its efforts to privatize air traffic controllers as part of the FAA reauthorization bill. FAA Administrator Blakey has sent a letter to Congress saying that the Administration would not privatize any component of the Air Traffic Control system through the end of fiscal year 2004.

Sen. Murray released the following statement:

“I was deeply concerned with the Bush Administration’s desire to privatize the controller workforce at scores of air traffic control towers, including the air traffic control tower at Boeing Field in Seattle. In the wake of the events of September 11, 2001, the thought of contracting out the air traffic control functions to the lowest bidder was crazy.

Immediately after September 11th, this Congress passed legislation to take the air passenger screening function out of the hands of private bidders and place it in the hands of a federalized screening force. For the life of me, I do not understand why the Bush Administration wanted to take the exact opposite approach when it came to the highly skilled personnel that actually control the movement of our aircraft.

For months the FAA authorization bill has been delayed because of congressional objections to the privatization scheme.

I am pleased that we have now overcome this hurdle and the Administration has given up their privatization scheme – at least for the coming year. They have given us assurances that they will not engage in any competition studies or outsourcing activities for air traffic controllers or for maintenance and technician personnel during fiscal year 2004. This will give the Congress some time to review the Administration’s plans in detail, which I intend to do during next year’s Appropriations’ hearings process.

Also, with the written assurance now in hand that no outsourcing activities related to our air traffic control system will take place in 2004, we can, if need be, work on putting sufficient safeguards in the 2005 Transportation Appropriations Act if we feel that the Administration is heading in the wrong direction when it comes to protecting safety and security.