Missoulians react to Trump's air traffic control privatization plan


MISSOULA, Mont. - Just last week the White House called for privatization of the country's air traffic control operations.

Missoula's airport already privatized air traffic control years ago, so we wanted to hear about their experience.

Everyone agrees safety is most important. But get into who should be in charge of safety and opinions start to split. There were strong feelings on both sides.

"I think it would be great! We are a nation that has too much government. Their fingers are in everything," said Missoula resident Kathy Pierandozzi.

Retired aircraft mechanic and pilot Jim Gallan disagrees. "It's an irresponsible and reckless argument made by people who don't know the facts and have an agenda," he said.

Missoula International Airport officials say MSO has already privatized its air traffic control operations. They say there has been no noticeable increase or decrease in efficiency, and we should not expect to see any due to the privatization.

MSO officials say there were about 800,000 commercial passengers coming and going last year, which they say makes Missoula the fastest growing airport in Montana and puts it on the verge of becoming a small hub airport.

President Donald Trump says nationwide privatization will save money and bring the most current technology sooner. The administration says air traffic control should be separated from the Federal Aviation Administration. Under Trump's plan the FAA would only focus on safety, not operations.

Proponents like Sen. Charles Schumer says the program could mean higher costs.