… claims Brandon Fried, Executive Director of the Washington-based Airforwarders Association. This statement is in response to the U.S. Senate's approval of a bill aimed at improving infrastructure, priced at US$550 billion in new federal spending. Planned allocations include investments in ports, airports and related projects, totaling US$42 billion. Additional funds of US$11 billion are aimed at making roads safer and more user-friendly. According to Brandon Fried, airports, including their cargo facilities, have not been adequately considered in the innovation offensive. Why and what is truly required to upgrade most U.S. airport’s poor ground infrastructure he told CargoForwarder in this exclusive.
“Freight building infrastructure needs to be updated throughout major U.S. airports,” Brandon Fried - photo: Airforwarders Association
CFG: The entire exercise reminds us of former President Roosevelt’s successful New Deal in the 1930ies. But will the funds suffice to bring most U.S. airports up to common international
BF: Absolutely not! Airports in other countries, such as Turkey’s new Istanbul airport, and many cities in China are beautiful, modern, state-of-the-art facilities which are reflective of the commitment and significant investment made to promote air commerce within those nations. While we have some bright spots here in the U.S., there is also much work to be done so that our airports here can achieve the high design standards that these airports outside our country offer.
CFG: How can your Association ensure the air cargo sector is properly addressed, preventing the lion’s share of the money flowing into the passenger sector?
BF: The Airforwarders Association spends a significant amount of time and effort focused on the airport congestion issue through a very active committee, specifically tasked with the challenge. We target lawmakers and work with other like-minded associations in urging government officials to devote resources in modernizing cargo-related facilities. The current cargo congestion issue shows no signs of abating soon, so this is an urgent priority.
CFG: Do you intend setting up kind of a “cargo improvement task force” to make your demands heard in Washington? Or is your organization’s role that of a passive onlooker?
BF: I was once told that when it comes to policy creation, you are either at the table or you are on the menu, so our mission focuses on getting involved whenever possible and making sure that our voices are heard. Washington is a lovely city but can be quite a competitive place with many diverse and competing interests vying for attention. Therefore, our voice needs to be strong, which it is, especially on Capitol Hill and within the regulatory agencies.
CFG: Which of the major U.S. airports does your Association believe are most in need of modernizing their air freight ground infrastructure?
BF: While many U.S. airports need investment, the most significant ones concerning us are Boston, Chicago O'Hare, Los Angeles, New York JFK, and Seattle.
These facilities are experiencing unsurpassed freight congestion and have antiquated cargo facilities that contribute to the challenge.
Also, a few of them are landlocked so expansion is often impossible, resulting in more creative solutions needed to address the issue.
CFG: Basically speaking, isn’t a fundamental change in U.S. infrastructure policy needed? I’m asking because repair is always more costly than early and targeted investment - not only in the U.S.
BF: Perhaps. If the current infrastructure legislation passes, it will be the first significant one to do so in about 30 years. This inaction is a result of past Congresses “kicking the can” and not doing the hard work necessary to invest in our nation's roadway, airport, ocean port and other vital infrastructures.
In the long run, a patchwork of temporary repairs always results in a more expensive fix. The United States is a rich and powerful nation and a significant global trading partner. Our nation's infrastructure needs to be reflective of that reality and prepared for a robust and productive future.
CFG: Brandon, thank you for this interview.
Brandon Fried in short - Brandon is a recognized expert on the air cargo industry and regularly comments for various trade and transport publications. He also
continues to educate and advocate for forwarders in national publications, including the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald and
USA Today. He has also appeared on National Public Radio, CNN News and C-SPAN’s Washington Journal television shows.
Brandon represents the Association on all security matters and serves on several Federal Advisory Committees. He advocates for the industry in the halls of Congress, the Department of Homeland Security and is the public face of the Airforwarders Association.
A graduate of Syracuse University, Brandon holds a Masters in Business Administration and lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland, with his wife Kim and two children, Evan and Jordan.
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