The old Maine adage “you can’t get there from here” might as well have been referring to the flight delays and cancellations travelers routinely experience at the state’s airports.

Although Maine’s geography is among the most spectacular in the United States, its location at the tail end of the most congested airspace in the country means that both locals and visitors often bear the brunt of flight cancellations and delays caused by air traffic control issues plaguing cities like Washington and New York. The result? Missed connections, delayed vacations and a good deal of frustration. Our current air traffic control system is broken and inefficient – and it’s costing us all a great deal of money and time.

There’s a common misconception that delays pile up only on foul weather days. In fact, even when the sun is shining, our air traffic control system can’t keep up. Airfares are at a historic low, and annual traffic at the Jetport is up by over 25 percent since JetBlue launched service to Portland a decade ago.

So what’s changed about air traffic control since then? As it turns out, not much.

Our nation’s professional air traffic controllers are still using 1950s-era technology to guide planes through the skies while most of us have GPS-enabled phones in our pockets. Fortunately, our air traffic controllers are the best in the world and operate the safest system anywhere. That said, it is highly inefficient and outdated. For far too long, America has failed to invest in modernizing our skies with readily available technologies that can shorten flight times and reduce delays while cutting aircraft emissions. Why? Politics and a broken congressional budget process in Washington. There is simply no other reason that a flight from Portland to New York today needs to be scheduled for about 20 to 30 minutes longer than a similar departure 25 years ago, or why our Boston to New York-LaGuardia flights are allotted a whopping 50 percent more time in the schedule.

The good news? Finally, things are looking up. The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote this month on a proposal to spin off the Federal Aviation Administration’s air traffic control operations into a new nonprofit organization governed by a board of users such as airlines, airports, Congress, the military and general aviation community, which is so important to Maine’s rural economy. Over 50 nations around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, have adopted this model to much success. It’s a proven concept – and unlike the claims of some critics, it is not privatization. If it were, JetBlue and our air traffic controllers themselves would not be supporting it.

Flight delays are a growing nuisance for travelers, especially here in the busy Northeast Corridor. Demand for air travel is continuing to climb. It’s time for us to take action, speed up flying and make our skies even safer.

By converting air traffic control operations into a nonprofit organization and freeing up the FAA to focus on its core safety and regulatory responsibilities, we can give air traffic control operations a funding and governance structure that’s better equipped to invest in the infrastructure improvements and the tools our highly capable air traffic controllers deserve. That’s good for travelers, our economy and the environment.

Our customers say that their priority is to arrive and depart on time. But operating under our current air traffic control system, we can’t always deliver on that wish. We know we can do better as a nation, and that’s why we at JetBlue support the plan for reforming the air traffic control structure alongside a broad coalition of lawmakers, airlines and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. We need you to support reducing delays by urging your senators and representatives to back air traffic control reform. A better way is within reach – let’s have it. Visit to learn more.