Tags: Senate | Yet | Fill | Drug | Czar | Post

Senate Yet to Fill Drug Czar Post

Tuesday, 18 September 2001 12:00 AM

Reagan National is the only major airport in the country that has not been re-opened following the September 11 attack on the United States, and officials said the airport is expected to remain closed indefinitely because of security concerns.

The airport is only a few miles away from the White House, Congress, scores of federal office buildings and the Pentagon, which was one of the targets in last week's attack.

The consequences of an extended delay in reopening, much less a permanent closure, would have a significant impact on the area's economy and on the lives of people with business in the nation's capital.

Rep. James P. Moran, Jr. (D-Va.), who represents the Arlington, Va. area where the airport is situated, estimates a $5 billion annual loss to the area economy if the airport remains closed.

The airport is one of three large airports that service the Washington, D.C. area, including Washington Dulles International Airport, which is about 25 miles west of the city in Sterling, Virginia; and Baltimore-Washington International Airport, which is about 30 miles northeast of the capital in Maryland.

Data from the Greater Washington Board of Trade indicate that an estimated 16 million people passed through Reagan National Airport last year.

Among the airlines that operate out of Reagan National, USAir is perhaps in the most precarious financial situation when it comes to the airport's future.

About 30 percent of the flights servicing Reagan National are USAir flights, according to the Metropolitan Airports Authority.

A decision on National Airport's future will be made by U.S. Secretary of Transportation (DOT) Norman Y. Mineta, who on September 16 announced the creation of two rapid response teams to deliver detailed recommendations for improving security within the national aviation system.

"Obviously there are some financial concerns that have to be balanced against the security concerns," said DOT spokesperson Lenny Alcivar about Reagan National Airport.

"The administration understands that," said Alcivar. "It's one of the reasons we're going to have a discussion with the airline CEOs [Tuesday] morning with regard to the economic situation [and] hear their views.

"The Secretary has always said that safety is paramount," Alcivar added, "and unless those decisions are made, it does remain closed."

In addition to the Tuesday meeting with airline chiefs, Alcivar said that Mineta would be awaiting the reports of the rapid response teams, expected no later than October 1, 2001.

Augmenting the work of senior DOT and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) experts, six national leaders in aviation and security protection will participate in the comprehensive review. One Rapid Response Team will focus on increasing security at the nation's airports, the other on aircraft security, focusing on cockpit access.

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Reagan National is the only major airport in the country that has not been re-opened following the September 11 attack on the United States, and officials said the airport is expected to remain closed indefinitely because of security concerns. The airport is only a few...
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2001-00-18
Tuesday, 18 September 2001 12:00 AM
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