|Officials Say It's Time to
Reopen National Airport|
Capital News Service
Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2001
WASHINGTON - Next to a locked-down newsstand, where racks of Sept. 11
newspapers should have been replaced long ago, officials gathered at Reagan
National Airport Wednesday in a plea to reopen the airport.
Reagan is the only one of the nation's commercial airports to remain closed
more than two weeks after terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and
Pentagon sparked a federally mandated, nationwide shutdown of all airports
in the country.
The airport's proximity to the White House, Capitol Hill and other
government sites has made its closing indefinite and put the decision to
reopen in the hands of the National Security Council and the Secret Service,
said Rep. Connie Morella, R-Bethesda.
She and other officials from Maryland, the District and Virginia called
Wednesday for a return to full operations.
"Reagan National Airport is a linchpin," Morella said. "Now
we have to get the National Security Council and the Secret Service to see
it that way."
Montgomery County Executive Douglas Duncan said Reagan should be reopened as
"an international model of safe and secure aviation," as he stood
in the airport's vast, and nearly empty, halls.
More than 10,000
airline employees are directly affected by the shutdown, with a $5 billion
revenue loss annually, Morella said. Additionally, hospitality and travel
industries are all experiencing a pinch from the lack of travel in the
Members of Congress are waiting to see if the Bush administration
will make any moves toward an opening, but they threatened legislation to
reopen if there is not a "significant commitment" by next week,
said Rep. James Moran, D- Va.
Maryland officials "strongly support
the need of three airports in the region," said Beverley
Swain-Staley, deputy secretary for the Maryland Department of
Transportation and the acting executive director for Baltimore/Washington
Business was "pretty much back to
normal" at BWI, said spokeswoman Melanie Miller.
project begun this year will help in the short-term, but it will not be
enough to absorb passengers from Reagan airport permanently, Miller said.
BWI officials have no way of knowing which of their current passengers
were rerouted from Reagan airport.
Those two airports, along with
Washington Dulles International Airport, supported the most air passengers
in the nation, Swain-Staley said. But 20 million passengers a year fly in
and out of BWI already, and it cannot handle the 15 million that usually
fly through Reagan, even if that number is split with nearby Dulles,
"It was a good working relationship,"
Morella also called for the reopening of Montgomery
County Airpark. That facility is just 18 nautical miles from the capital,
putting it well within the current no-fly zone of 25 nautical miles.
Morella said close to 70 of the airpark's 81 employees are on furlough as
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