LaHood praises air cargo
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood came to Atlanta for The International Air Cargo Association’s biennial forum with a message of support for the air freight industry.
“We are committed to your industry because what’s good for air cargo is good for the U.S. economy,” he said Oct. 2.
Air cargo constitutes 31 percent of the total value of U.S. exports and is critical to meeting the Obama administration’s goal of doubling exports over five years, he added.
LaHood cast the administration’s support for the air cargo industry in the broader context of investment for overall transportation. He pointed to the competitive TIGER grant program. About a third of the $3.1 billion awarded so far has gone to freight-related projects, mostly for intermodal rail, ports, and flyovers and other road connections to ports and rail yards. Very little money has directly gone to airports — and that which has been went for passenger-related activities such as transit connections.
He also touted the creation of a Freight Policy Council, as called for by the new surface transportation authorization bill, which will gather input from the business sector to put together a first-ever national freight policy. Representatives include the Cargo Airline Association, he said.
The law continues funding for several grant programs that tend to benefit freight, but most of those projects involve road and rail. President Obama’s order to speed up reviews of key infrastructure projects so they can be built faster also is a benefit to freight transportation, he said.
So far, the expedited reviews have involved maritime infrastructure.
“All of these efforts support the interconnected nature of freight and that’s a positive step for the air cargo industry,” LaHood said.
The secretary also said DOT is working to eliminate protectionist restrictions on free exchange of aviation services in some markets through more Open Skies agreements.
Throughout his remarks, LaHood talked about the strong relationship between DOT and the air cargo industry and how both sides have worked well together on safety, infrastructure, and other issues.
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