The air cargo industry is poised for economic growth, the chair of the U.S. House of Representatives Aviation Subcommittee says.
“We have a robust domestic cargo industry that looks to be bigger and hopefully stronger in the years to come, and this will spell very good news for us,” Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) says. “I hope we’ll be able to increase our exports. That’s an area that will be of tremendous economic benefit to the nation.”
He says there is potential for the jobs and economic activity that airfreight brings to do “even bigger and better things than it’s done already.”
LoBiondo was named chair of the aviation subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the Federal Aviation Administration, in January. He is a U.S. Representative for New Jersey and has been on the subcommittee, which is within the House transportation and infrastructure committee, for more than 15 years.
LoBiondo, who has served in the House of Representatives since 1995, also sits on the Coast Guard & Maritime Transportation and Highways & Transit Subcommittees. In addition, he is on the Armed Services Committee and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where he deals with issues such as terrorism and counterintelligence.
Before election, LoBiondo worked for more than 26 years at his family-owned trucking company and served on the New Jersey General Assembly from 1988 to 1994.
LoBiondo says much of his time on the aviation subcommittee for the last few years has been spent on efforts to reauthorize a bill that provides funding for the FAA through 2015. Before the bill was signed, the FAA relied on 23 extensions to stay afloat and experienced a partial shutdown.
U.S. President Barack Obama signed the FAA bill into law in February 2012.
But from that process, hope springs for LoBiondo.
“As we move forward, we can set the stage now for the next reauthorization bill so that we have plenty of leeway and we don’t come anywhere close to the disaster of the extensions and the shutdown that we did a couple of years ago,” he says.
Besides preparing for reauthorization, LoBiondo has other plans he looks forward to tackling. He says safety makes the top of the list, but other topics on the agenda are unmanned aircraft systems, operational errors and how to protect privacy as the U.S. moves forward.
LoBiondo says the year will include meetings with the many stakeholders who have a hand in the aviation sector.
“We’re doing a lot of listening early on,” he says. “I think that we have a tremendous opportunity to highlight the positive economic impact that aviation and especially cargo has and how can we be a partner and a force multiplier for that economic activity.”
LoBiondo says so far, it has been an intriguing process to learn more about the issues at play.
He says he remembers a lesson he learned as chair of the Coast Guard & Maritime Transportation Subcommittee.
“We have to be very careful that whatever we do here has to work in the real world,” LoBiondo says. “As chair of coast guard maritime for a number of years, I tried to make sure that policy implemented by the subcommittee or the full committee or Congress reflects what can accurately work for all the stakeholders – that we address problems but we address them in such a way that we don’t handcuff people and make it impossible. The economic importance of aviation and the air cargo industry is going to be highlighted.”