Even if UPS and FedEx are at odds over a labor dispute, they both agree that it's good to get the government behind you when you can. That's the lesson from USAToday, which notes that since 2001, $100 million in earmarks have gone to 11 small airports “where one of the two major cargo carriers has a large operation with daily flights.”
The report notes the vast amount of taxpayer money used to fund runway expansions specifically requested by UPS and FedEx:
UPS told Capital Region International Airport in Lansing, Mich., that it wanted the main runway lengthened from 8,000 feet to 8,500 feet so the company's DC-8 jets could take off with full loads of fuel and cargo, airport Executive Director Robert Selig said. “Their preference was the longer runway,” he said.
At Montana's Great Falls International Airport, FedEx “indicated the need for” a system that lets planes take off and land in low visibility, airport Director Cynthia Schultz said. FedEx has a regional hub at Great Falls.
Airport officials, feeling federal bureaucrats had overlooked them for years, lobbied Montana lawmakers, who delivered $7.5 million in earmarked funds from 2001 to 2005 to install the system and to improve a runway, Schultz said.
Louisville International Airport has received $11.2 million in earmarks since 2002, much of it going to expand a runway and build a taxiway. The airport wants to be able to handle wide-body jets that UPS was planning to fly to Europe and Asia, airport Executive Director Skip Miller said. He said UPS has its largest shipping facility at the airport and is the largest employer in the Louisville area.
UPS canceled its plan in 2007 to buy wide-body jets, but the airport is finishing the work to handle them.
Another irony arises: The story highlights Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., who received contributions from UPS' political action committee. Prior to receiving the maximum contribution from the PAC, Rogers secured $3 million for an airport project that benefited UPS. A UPS spokesman called the timing a “coincidence.” A look at Rogers' website indicates a section entitled “Washington Waste Watch.” The story that includes his own earmarks is missing.