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26th International Air Cargo Forum & Exposition (TIACA)

Secretary Ray LaHood

26th International Air Cargo Forum & Exposition (TIACA)

Atlanta, Georgia

Tuesday October 2, 2012

  • Thank you, Michael (Steen, Chairman of TIACA).
  • Good morning everyone. It’s great to be here.
  • The U.S. has the largest and safest aviation industry in the world—and it’s important that we work together to keep it that way. 
  • Everyone here is doing their part.  From the pilots who are upholding the highest professional safety standards to the operators who are making sure they are hiring the most qualified pilots.
  • Last year, we issued a major safety rule that overhauls passenger airline pilot scheduling to combat pilot fatigue.
  • I know that you have a strong safety record and that many of you have already taken steps to fight fatigue, but I continue to encourage all of you to opt into the new rule voluntarily.
  • Many of you are on the frontlines—seeing the needs of industry change almost as quickly as we need to move cargo.
  • We know that today’s businesses rely on a 21st century transportation network. And we know that a strong aviation system is critical to keeping up with the speed of global commerce.
  • President Obama and the U.S. Department of Transportation are committed to investing in an efficient, safe and reliable transportation network that creates jobs today and supports businesses in the long-term.
  • We are committed to your industry—because what’s good for air cargo is good for the U.S. economy.
  • A strong air cargo industry expands international trade and contributes to job creation and prosperity at home.  
  • Air cargo is a $60 billion industry that puts people to work.  In Atlanta alone, more than 19,000 direct and indirect jobs are related to air cargo operations.
  • While air cargo is just a segment of the tons of goods shipped around the world each day, it makes up 31% of the total value of U.S. exports.
  • That is because we ship high-value goods like electronics, pharmaceuticals and medical devices on planes.
  • In 2010, President Obama set a goal of doubling U.S. exports over five years.
  • In order to accomplish that goal, we need a thriving air cargo industry to help America’s leading industries move their products to market quickly and efficiently.
  • At DOT, we’re doing our part to build a transportation system that supports President Obama’s export goal.
  • We’re strengthening the movement of freight across land, air and sea because we know that freight movement is multi-modal.
  • Through our successful TIGER grant program– that’s Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery--we’ve worked with local and State partners to invest in projects that meet our transportation needs and spur economic growth.  
  • Over four rounds of TIGER, we have invested $953 million in 50 freight-related projects throughout our nation’s freight corridors, including rail, port, highway and airport projects.  
  • These TIGER freight-related projects will help speed delivery of products from factories, farms, and businesses to customers across the United States and around the world.  
  • Now, improving freight movement also means listening to the people who count on freight—the freight and logistics industry, the States, businesses, and consumers.
  • Recently, we created our Freight Policy Council—a high-level and multi-modal internal body that will help us develop a national plan for improving freight movement and meeting the President’s export goals.
  • In September, we held our first public meeting. We were pleased to have representatives from across the freight industry, including the Cargo Airline Association.
  • In addition to our new Freight Policy Council, President Obama signed into law a new transportation bill this summer, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century or MAP-21.
  • This law does a number of good things for freight.
  • For one, it calls on us to work with the States to plan our freight investments more systematically—so that we can achieve our national goals.
  • And through the dollars provided in MAP-21, we will continue to invest in freight through our grant and loan programs.
  • As a result of MAP-21, DOT has $1.75 billion in TIFIA funding for the next two years. Those are funds that can be put to work establishing and improving our nation’s intermodal freight network.


  • Finally, President Obama issued an Executive Order requiring DOT and other Federal agencies to cut red tape and speed up the time it takes to review and permit important infrastructure projects.
  • All of these efforts support the interconnected nature of freight—and that’s a positive step for the air cargo industry.
  • A final note—we at the Department recognize how important the air cargo industry is to our economy.
  • We are working hard to secure additional market openings for U.S. cargo companies around the world.
  • And we are continuing to help the cargo industry realize the full benefits of this market access around the globe.
  • Through our Open Skies agreements, we have opened more than a hundred markets around the world to our cargo industry.  
  • Open Skies agreements allow airlines to select routes and destinations based on demand for cargo services, without limitation on the number of flights or carriers that can operate in the market.  
  • These agreements have laid the foundation for commercial decisions to be made by airlines.
  • As a result, we have industry leaders, like UPS and FedEx, with strategically placed hub facilities in key growth and manufacturing markets worldwide.  
  • Some of these ultra-modern hubs are capable of moving tens of thousands of pieces of cargo per hour.
  • And they link the United States with key trading partners across the world, like China and Europe.
  • With hundreds of new flights, improved time-in-transit for cargo and later cut-off times for cargo shippers, the winner here is the consumer.  
  • Our work here, however, is not done.  
  • We recognize that real challenges and difficulties still exist for US cargo carriers around the world.  
  • We know that some foreign governments are still practicing protectionism in their markets to the detriment of many.
  • We also realize there are real challenges on customs and cargo security issues abroad and here at home.  
  • But we will continue to work hand-in hand with you, our partners here at home and abroad to insure that our dynamic and growing cargo industry continues to be a worldwide leader in the industry, increasing global trade and creating jobs.
  • Again, we are committed to your industry—and we look forward to working with you to invest in an America built to last.
  • Thank you.
Updated: Monday, November 19, 2012
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