Sun, Jan 23, 2005 - Page 10 News List

Pentagon to tap US airline industry

ASSISTANCE Struggling US air carriers will get a boost from the Pentagon, that is seeking the use of commercial airlines to transport military equipment and personnel

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , NEW YORK

For one thing, airlines will receive slightly more than they received during the early part of the Iraq conflict, when they were paid 8.5 cents per seat mile to transport troops on their biggest planes.

According to government data, the airlines this year will receive 9.149 cents per seat mile for flights involving the biggest jets in the program, like the Boeing 747 and the McDonnell-Douglas DC-10.

The memo said the Pentagon hoped members of the air fleet would soon be able to bid for flights under Operation Unified Assistance, which is sending relief to countries ravaged by the tsunami in December. "We hope to soon relieve most of these gray tails and start sending more missions" to commercial participants, the memo said.

Through Jan. 4, military planes based at Scott Air Force Base had transported 1.6 million pounds of cargo and 748 passengers to areas affected by the tsunami, according to a military newsletter posted on the base's Web site. The flights are primarily using Kadena Air Base in Japan as a positioning center.

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