Mar. 01, 2001

CONTACT: Doug Church
202.628-5451, x4802


WASHINGTON - As the worldwide debate intensifies about how best to provide the service of air traffic control, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association is discovering that many officials from around the world are looking to the United States for leadership.

NATCA Executive Vice President Ruth E. Marlin was eager to learn last week that many top European airline and air traffic service officials not only share NATCA's strong views against the privatization of air traffic control in the United States, but want to use the United States as a model for how to improve their own systems.

At the ATC 2001 Conference in Maastricht, Netherlands, a representative
from KLM Airlines asked Victor M. Aguado, the Director General of Eurocontrol, when Europe would follow the U.S. example and implement a collaborative decision process, which is an integral part of the FAA's spring/summer initiatives and something NATCA supports as an effort to improve service and reduce delays.

As Wolfgang Phillip, a senior director at Eurocontrol, spoke of enhancing the performance of European Air Traffic Management, the KLM representative stated that the Federal Aviation Administration, under the direction of Administrator Jane Garvey, has taken aggressive action in response to the U.S. system's problem of delays, while Eurocontrol is proposing a similar system that will take three years to implement.

Phillip said Eurocontrol "needs a picture based on radar data like they
have in the United States. We don't have it yet." Phillip added that
Eurocontrol advised that the cost associated with deploying a system comparable to the United States' precludes immediate action.

Sir Roy McNulty, Chairman of the National Air Traffic Services in the
U.K., said the recent public-private partnership there advised that
privatization is not the only solution, especially for those systems that can achieve significant flexibility within their governments. At the Eurocontrol Guild of Air Traffic Services conference, "Privatization: Blessing or Curse?", the vast majority of speakers criticized air traffic control privatization.

Said Marlin: "The European Community shares the U.S. problems with delays, overscheduling, noise abatement and weather. In fact, my first day here, news outlets were reporting a potential legislative initiative for passenger rights similar to U.S. proposals for a passenger bill of rights. Clearly, the illusion offered by our opponents that the U.S. air traffic control system is under-performing is just that, an illusion."

Considering the fact that the United States does not tightly regulate
airline schedules and slots like they do in Europe, Marlin said, "we have a system that performs as well if not better than those across the