Tags: Mixed | Signals | Reopening | Reagan | Airport

Mixed Signals on Reopening Reagan Airport

Friday, 28 September 2001 12:00 AM

During an interview on ABC's Good Morning America, Mineta said the airport would definitely reopen. He also said that the Transportation Department is working with the National Security Council and Secret Service to develop a security plan to make the reopening possible.

"The Secret Service is very concerned about the flight pattern into National, but every day we are coming up with alternative plans to make sure that they're satisfied about security,' Mineta told ABC.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, however, said Friday a decision had not been reached, despite Mineta's statement.

"That's going to be a determination that's ongoing, to be made by the appropriate security people working with the Department of Transportation and the National Security Council, the Secret Service, in consultation with officials here." Fleischer said. "The president is keenly aware of the impact of leaving Ronald Reagan Airport closed. He's very concerned about the impact it has on the people who work there, their families, the economy of Northern Virginia, on US Air and its ability to maintain its obligations to its passengers."

Fleischer also said "unique security considerations" are on the minds of administration officials because of the airports close location to downtown Washington, Capitol Hill, the White House and other institutions of the federal government.

"No final determinations have been made. The review is underway and there's nothing further I can say until the review is complete and then shared," Fleischer said.

Reporters pressed Fleischer on whether there could be an announcement next week.

"I don't want to guess on the timing. But the president is aware of the need to move with dispatch because it's affecting people's lives," Fleischer said.

Rep. Connie Morella (R-Md.), a Washington area member of Congress, according to an aide, said Mineta's statement was very good news. Morella had no further comment.

Wednesday, Rep. James Moran (D-Va.), whose congressional district includes the airport, said he would introduce legislation next week to reopen it if the Bush administration did not take action in the meantime.

Friday, Moran told CNSNews.com he had not changed his mind.

"If we don't get a definitive statement by Monday as to the timely reopening of National Airport, then I do plan to introduce the legislation by Tuesday that will detail the security measures we're preparing to take, but we will also require the reopening of National Airport immediately," Moran said.

The legislation, Moran indicated, would be an amendment to an anti-terrorism bill.

"I would hope and expect that National Airport would be open by the end of [next] week because economically, it is crippling the Washington area economy. Also, the statement that it makes with regard to how the federal government truly feels about air safety. As long as we keep the airport in the nation's capital closed, I don't think any speeches by President Bush are going to be believed that it's safe to travel by air again," said Moran.

President Bush said in Chicago Thursday that Americans should fly again in order to "get about the business of America."

Moran reacted to Bush saying, "I believe there's an inconsistency here and we need to eliminate that inconsistency by opening National Airport."

Copyright 2001

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During an interview on ABC's Good Morning America, Mineta said the airport would definitely reopen. He also said that the Transportation Department is working with the National Security Council and Secret Service to develop a security plan to make the reopening possible. ...
Mixed,Signals,Reopening,Reagan,Airport
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2001-00-28
Friday, 28 September 2001 12:00 AM
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