WASHINGTON — President Trump said Monday that the nation’s air traffic control system needs a modern makeover and urged Congress to approve a privatization plan that he said would increase safety and reduce wait times for passengers.

Dismissing the current system as an anachronism, Trump said the air traffic control operations need to be separated from the Federal Aviation Administration, an approach that U.S. airlines have long championed. But opponents worry that the plan, which would require congressional approval, will give too much power to the airline industries.

“We live in a modern age, yet our air traffic control system is stuck, painfully, in the past,” Trump said, noting the FAA had been working to upgrade the system for years. “But after billions and billions of tax dollars spent and the many years of delays, we’re still stuck with an ancient, broken, antiquated, horrible system that doesn’t work.” He added with a touch of humor, “Other than that, it’s quite good.”

The businessman-turned-president’s push to privatize the system came as the airline industry and regulators have managed an extensive period of safety in the skies – there hasn’t been a fatal crash of a domestic airliner in the U.S. in eight years.

There are about 50,000 airline and other aircraft flights a day in the United States. Both sides of the privatization debate say the system is one of the most complex and safest in the world. Even under a congressional privatization plan, the FAA would continue to provide safety oversight of the system.

Democrats have largely opposed the changes, warning that airline interests would dominate the proposed board.