WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a senior member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today questioned Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao about Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) plans to privatize air traffic control and address the global pilot shortage.
Wicker requested assurances from Secretary Chao that the administration proposal would not lead to increased air fare or fees for rural airports and their customers.
“This [ATC privatization] is a tough sell in states like my state of Mississippi where small airports are very concerned about where this will leave them,” Wicker said.
Secretary Chao emphasized that she shares Wicker’s concerns for rural America and looks forward to working with the senator to address his concerns.
Wicker asked Secretary Chao for her recommendations on how to address the global shortage of pilots that has severely impacted the military and the airline industry.
“There is a shortage across the board – in the military, in the Air Force, in the Navy… and also among commercial pilots,” Wicker said. “It is a serious problem.”
Wicker also asked Secretary Chao to comment on the value of the FAA contract tower program that serves 250 airports in the United States and seven in Mississippi.