US transportation secretary Norm Mineta has made clear that he sees privatisation of the air traffic control (ATC) system as a complete non-starter. During a flying visit to the Paris air show in June, he bluntly admitted there is no chance of such legislation ever making its way through Congress and therefore, despite wishful thinking by the airlines, ATC privatisation is not on his agenda.

"I'm not going to spend my time and political capital pursuing that," he says, arguing that privatisation may make for "good rhetoric" but that he will not spend time "spinning my wheels trying to persuade a resistant Capitol Hill". He adds: "To me, overseeing basic safety is the role of the federal government."

Mineta, however, mounted a passionate defence against the charge of ATC inertia over the capacity crisis pointing to a string of initiatives which represent more than "just business as usual".

There are signs that US delays are running lower this year, helped by the new routings opened up in the "congestion triangle" identified across the centre of the country. Delays appear to be lower in June and the Federal Aviation Administration is hoping that, baring poor weather, there is the chance for a "better-than-average" summer.

Source: Airline Business