Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Dole Says Airport Expansion Crucial for Higher Capacity / after Deregulation

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Dole Says Airport Expansion Crucial for Higher Capacity / after Deregulation

Article excerpt

Cities and states which prepare for increasing air traffic through airport expansion will be those positioned for growth as the industry matures under deregulation, according to Elizabeth Dole, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

"Airport expansion is crucial in terms of increasing capacity in the future," she said following an address Friday to the Women's Entrepreneurial Conference in Oklahoma City.

The deregulated industry will continue to expand, she indicated, demanding more airport space and more allocations of federal funding to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Those areas prepared to handle the traffic are bound to benefit from their foresight she said, without specifying any airports.

"But the lead must come from the communities and states," she said, which Oklahoma City officials contend has been the case with the city's largest airport - Will Rogers World Airport.

Leroy Hansen, Oklahoma City airports director, agreed, saying:

"The legislation being considered in the Congress at this time supports pretty much what the former secretary said. The new legislation, as it relates to new airport programs, indicates that the money will be utilized to enhance the capacity of airports such as Oklahoma City in order to begin a program of diluting traffic from major hubs.

"I anticipate this is going to have a positive impact on air service in and out of Oklahoma City for the reason that Oklahoma City has a lot of unused capacity."

Oklahoma City's Will Rogers World Airport currently is undergoing a $50 million expansion, which is about 30 percent complete, according to Hansen.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Transportation should take the role of "catalyst" in the efforts to help local governments and entrepreneurs "cut through the red tape" to provide new airports and expand existing facilities in preparation for the industry's growth, said Dole. …

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