President Donald Trump renewed his focus on infrastructure improvement, using a meeting with airline bosses and airport managers to bemoan the country’s “obsolete” transportation system.
“Our airports used to be the best,” he said in a White House meeting on Thursday. “Now they’re at the bottom of the rung. We have an obsolete plane system. We have obsolete airports. We have obsolete trains. We have bad roads. We’re going to change all that, folks.”
Trump has said he wants to channel as much as $1 trillion to infrastructure investment, promising to repair and upgrade roads, bridges and airports without providing details on how he would achieve his goals. He also contrasted a lack of U.S. high-speed trains with their widespread use in China and Japan, a day before a scheduled meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Building-materials suppliers such as Vulcan Materials Co. and Martin Marietta Materials Inc. surged after Trump’s election as investors anticipated stepped-up spending on public works. The S&P 500 Materials Sector Index has slid the last two weeks as investors await details on spending plans.
In the aviation meeting, Trump and the aviation executives also discussed an overhaul of the nation’s outdated air-traffic-control system.
“Everyone agreed that we need an infrastructure plan that will once again give the American public an aviation system we can be proud of,” Robin Hayes, chief executive officer of JetBlue Airways Corp., said in a statement after the meeting. “We look forward to working with this administration and Congress to restart efforts after years of delay an inaction.”
Trump hasn’t detailed how his infrastructure improvement plan would be funded beyond trying to leverage more private-sector dollars in the effort. He indicated a willingness to make U.S. airports competitive with those in Qatar and Singapore, said Deborah Flint, CEO of Los Angeles World Airports, who attended the meeting.
Trump also said China and Japan “have fast trains all over the place. We don’t have one.” He’s scheduled to meet with Abe at the White House on Friday, and to golf with the Japanese leader the next day at the Trump estate in Florida.