New US transportation chief to have ‘pivotal role’ in restart

By Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America – Pete Buttigieg, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Senate confirmation of Pete Buttigieg to lead the US Department of Transportation has been welcomed by the country’s travel sector.

He will have a “pivotal role” in leading the post-pandemic resumption of air travel .

Buttigieg is former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and an ex-US Navy intelligence officer.

He was new president Joe Biden’s nominee to head the transport department.

US Travel Association president and chief executive Roger Dow said: “The Department of Transportation will play a pivotal role in safely restarting domestic and international air travel, and secretary Buttigieg’s pragmatic approach to transportation policy will ensure we can do it in a way that protects public health and ensures economic growth can safely resume.

“As a former mayor, Buttigieg brings priority-based thinking to transportation investment, which will be valuable since travel and tourism has been hit by far the hardest of any US industry by the fallout of the pandemic.”

He added: “Now is the time to prioritise investments in projects that will accelerate recovery, usher in the future of mobility, and ensure the travel industry is globally competitive.

“Travel and tourism lost $500 billion and 4.5 million jobs as travel ground to a halt last year, and our industry looks forward to working with Buttigieg to facilitate a strong comeback.”

Robin Hayes, chef executive of JetBlue, which is planning its first low cost transatlantic flights this year, said: “Secretary Buttigieg brings to the role a strong understanding of the importance of infrastructure investment, which we’re hopeful will include modernizing the nation’s air traffic control system, a top priority for JetBlue.

“We also welcome president Biden’s immediate focus on climate change and look forward to collaborating with the secretary on opportunities that lie ahead.

“And with considerable and significant challenges still facing the airline industry amid the pandemic recovery, we’ll also look to the secretary for support to ensure we emerge in a position to help power the economy when the crisis is over.”

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