If I was halfway good at predictions I’d be a meteorologist, because that’s an acceptable rate for them. If I was more than halfway good at predictions, I’d be working in finance. I’m not a meteorologist or a financial type.
I’d like to tell you a story. I have no inside knowledge or special insight – this is just what I see when I consider the past and project into the future. It’s my opinion about where this is going. Everybody’s got one. Your mileage may vary.
Once upon a time, there were three branches in Air Traffic: Enroute, Terminal, and Station. Industry has taken Station away from government. Industry already finds Enroute pretty profitable as it is. I believe that Industry will come for Terminal next.
I think Industry’s vision for Terminal’s status in 10 years will be:
- The small-and-medium up-down facilities will be split
- The small-and-medium (split) towers will be contracted out
- The small-and-medium (split) approach controls will be lumped into fewer combined facilities (Think NCT, SCT, PCT.)
- The busiest towers and approach controls will remain as government facilities with government controllers.
When this is finished the number of government, unionized Terminal controllers will be about two-thirds of the current amount. They’ll be replaced by fewer, lower-cost non-union contractors and automation. Among other things, that’s called union busting.
The natural response is: It’ll never happen. They’ll never close this down.
They probably said “never” at the Railroads, they probably said “never” at the Factories, they probably said “never” at Eastern and PanAm, and they probably said “never” at Flight Service. Won’t happen here.
In the next few posts I’ll try to lay out how it’s going to happen, including links to official timelines. In the final section I’m going to make suggestions for influencing this. I think we should be concerned about the future of our profession if we want the story to end with “happily ever after”.