By a nearly two-to-one margin, voters oppose privatizing the operations of the air traffic control system by taking it from the FAA and turning it over to a private non-profit entity, according to a new poll.
A recent telephone survey conducted by Global Strategy Group of 801 registered voters nationwide between Aug. 8 and Aug. 12 found that:
- A majority (55%) oppose privatizing the ATC functions of the FAA “by taking it from the FAA and turning it over to a non-profit corporation,” while 29% support it. Opposition exceeds support across party lines (it is opposed by 62% of Democrats and 58% of independents, while among Republicans, 46% oppose it and 38% support it). Opposition is higher than support across other demographic sub-groups, including gender, age, education and region of the country. There is also essentially no difference among those who fly often (56% oppose), those who fly about once a year (55%) and those who rarely or never fly (55%).
- Generally, voters support privatizing government functions or services. When asked whether they support or oppose “privatizing government functions or services, which is defined as allowing private companies to provide services currently or traditionally done by government,” 51% support privatization generally, while only 34% oppose it. Pollsters note that this question was asked immediately ahead of the question on privatizing the ATC functions of the FAA, which means that 20% of voters said they supported privatization generally and then immediately said they opposed privatizing the FAA’s ATC functions.
- Opposition to privatization may be at least partly due to the fact that voters think the FAA does a good job managing the ATC system. Fully 67% of voters give the FAA a positive job rating overall, while only 16% say it does a not so good or poor job. When asked more specifically to rate the job the FAA does operating the nation’s air traffic control system, 80% of voters say the FAA does an excellent or good job and only 14% rate the FAA negatively.
“Voters are very clearly expressing an “if-it-ain’t-broke” attitude about the FAA and privatization, officials with the polling company concluded.