DOT On Privatization -- Aviation Infrastructure For Sale?

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More private investment is needed to maintain the nation's transportation infrastructure, including airports, Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta said Tuesday at the NASDAQ market in New York. Airline delays are robbing the economy of $9.7 billion each year, Mineta said, and congestion represents "a looming threat to our economic prosperity." Mineta's plan does not propose any changes in federally owned and operated facilities such as towers, FAA spokesman Geoffrey Basye told AVweb. "However, some states and local governments have considered accepting private-sector investments in airports," Basye said. Mineta's plan focuses mainly on surface congestion, but does propose several ways to enhance aviation capacity. According to the plan, the government needs to move forward with deploying the Next Generation Air Transportation System, improve efficiency and reduce delays at New York City's LaGuardia Airport, and streamline environmental reviews for aviation capacity projects. The plan also supports "the use of market-based tools to manage congestion at our most crowded airports," but it gives no specifics as to the nature of those tools.