AIRPORT CONSTRUCTION GETTING SHORT SHRIFT, INDUSTRY PEOPLE SAY

AIRPORT CONSTRUCTION GETTING SHORT SHRIFT, INDUSTRY PEOPLE SAY

Failure of Washington to make new airport construction a priority was sharply criticized Thursday by a group of aviation officials.

This needs to be a national priority, a national policy - no such national leadership exists today, said Robert Aaronson, director of aviation, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.What I think is missing is a counterpressure on local and state officials, said Mr. Aaronson at a symposium at John F. Kennedy International Airport hosted by the Airtraffic Control Association.

We need a national consensus, added Martin Shugrue, president, Continental Airlines.

Industry officials say new airport construction is needed to alleviate further congestion caused by burgeoning demand for air service by passengers and shippers.

For example, the Federal Aviation Administration projects that by the year 2000, 750 million passengers will use this nation's airports. In 1987, that figure was 450 million.

The Reagan administration has been reluctant to push for new airport construction, instead deferring to local officials, the speakers said. At that level, community pressure against construction often is substantial, they said.

The Reagan administration is hiding behind an executive order on federalism, said Steven Brown, vice president, strategic planning, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. AOPA is a general aviation trade group.