Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta has announced the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will allow a limited reopening of the nation’s commercial airspace system in order to allow flights that were diverted yesterday to continue to their original destinations. The Secretary also announced that the FAA is temporarily extending the ground stop order imposed yesterday while additional security measures are being completed.
It was not clear if cargo planes would be allowed up or remain grounded.
“Safety is always of paramount importance, and in these extraordinary times we intend to be vigilant,” Mineta said. “We remain committed to resuming commercial flights as soon as possible.”
Mineta echoed President George W. Bush’s speech from last night, and said the “despicable terrorist attacks have shaken the foundation of our greatest buildings, but have not shaken the foundation of this great nation.”
Mineta said the FAA would permit flights today only in special limited circumstances. Flights diverted as a result of yesterday’s order will be allowed to continue to their original destination under vastly tightened security guidelines. Only passengers on the original flights will be allowed to re-board, and only after airports and airlines have implemented strict screening measures. Airlines will also be allowed to reposition empty aircraft, he said.
“I know all Americans want us to move as quickly and prudently as possible to return our transportation system to normal,” Mineta said, “and we will as soon as we can do so safely.”