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Secretary Ray LaHood Remarks as Prepared Press Conference with Jet Blue Reagan Washington National Airport

Good afternoon, everyone.  Thank you for joining us.  I’m pleased that Dave Barger, the CEO of Jet Blue Airways, is here – as is Randy Babbitt, our outstanding administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Last week, President Obama used his State of the Union Address to talk with the American people about how our nation’s businesses will compete and win in today’s global economy.  The president pledged that we will do everything in our power to help American companies out-innovate, out-build, and out-succeed their counterparts around the world.  And the Department of Transportation shares the president’s commitment.

Today, I’m thrilled to announce that the Federal Aviation Administration and Jet Blue Airways have forged a new partnership to spur and spread innovation in America’s aviation industry.  Under this agreement, the Department of Transportation will invest $4.2 million for new equipment in 35 of Jet Blue’s A320 planes.

This will enable Jet Blue to fly new routes between Boston, New York, Florida, and points up and down the East Coast.  It will allow the FAA to gather critical flight data that will inform our effort to open additional, less-congested, and off-radar flight paths along the eastern seaboard.  It will continue America’s transition from the radar-based airspace system of the 20th century to the satellite-based airspace system of the 21st century.  And because NextGen lets aircraft more directly fly from point A to point B, it will save time and fuel – alleviating delays, protecting our environment, and making our aviation sector stronger.

Ultimately, this public-private partnership answers President Obama’s call for a new foundation for economic opportunity and competitiveness.  After all, it doesn’t just demonstrate how government can deliver the extra boost that helps an entrepreneurial company turn a bold idea into a life-changing reality. It represents what can happen when we dream big and build big – when we innovate and invest – together.

So, thank you, Jet Blue, for raising your hand and volunteering to help lead American aviation forward.

Updated: Wednesday, April 18, 2012
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