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Ex-Continental CEO says it's time to privatize air traffic control

Airline CEOs visited the White House on Thursday to meet with the president and discuss the air traffic control system and aging airports.

Trump was critical of the nation's current transportation infrastructure, calling plane systems obsolete.

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with airline industry executives, including Deborah Flint (L), CEO of Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA); and Myron Gray (R), President of US Operations at UPS, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, February 9, 2017.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with airline industry executives, including Deborah Flint (L), CEO of Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA); and Myron Gray (R), President of US Operations at UPS, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, February 9, 2017.

Gordon Bethune, former CEO and chairman of Continental Airlines, said on CNBC's "Power Lunch" the best way to fix aviation infrastructure in the country is by making the air traffic control system more efficient and "thereby saving billions of dollars of people's time and money."

He suggested a plan to privatize the system similar to other countries like Canada.

David Vernon, a Bernstein senior research analyst, said, "If you do modernize the air traffic control system, you can kind of cut down the spacing between the planes" for taking off and arriving into airports.

Vernon said this makes it easier for airlines to reduce their operating costs by squeezing in more flights with their existing fleet, thus the carriers can earn more money and choose to either pass on their profits to customers by lowering ticket prices or use the money to grow.