Congressional and local lawmakers have called on the FAA to use newly available funds to stave off the June 15 closure of 149 contract towers under budget sequestration. Signed into law last week, the “Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013” allows the FAA to reallocate unassigned funds from the Airport Improvement Program to end FAA employee furloughs and keep the national airspace system functioning smoothly through the end of Fiscal Year 2013. Tower proponents assert the measure also includes the funds needed to preserve the contract towers.
“By providing up to $253 million in funding authority–far above the amount required to prevent furloughs–Congressional intent is clear,” reads the letter signed by 41 senators to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and transportation secretary Ray LaHood. A separate letter signed by 82 House representatives reiterated that message, as did a petition from 70 mayors and community leaders expressing “deep concerns” about the economic impact from tower closures.
Although some reports, including a statement from two Maryland lawmakers thanking the agency for preserving the facilities, have stated the towers have already been spared through September 30, the FAA has not yet publicly wavered from its June 15 closure timeline.