In a last-ditch effort to stop the FAA’s furloughing of air traffic controllers to meet government-wide budget reductions, the House and Senate passed legislation late last week to transfer money from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund to pay controllers’ salaries and prevent the closure of some privately operated control towers. Congress quickly moved to relieve the FAA of its need to furlough controllers after just five days of prolonged flight delays at major airports last week.
The “Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013” authorized the agency to redistribute as much as $253 million to stop the furloughs and preserve 149 towers targeted for closure to help the FAA cut $637 million as its share of $85 billion in automatic government-wide spending cuts that must be achieved by the end of the federal budget year on September 30.
“We applaud the Senate and House for taking action to ensure that ATC facilities nationwide will remain fully staffed, and that the FAA will have the means for keeping air traffic control towers open,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen.
AOPA president and CEO Craig Fuller added, “We hope the FAA will use the flexibility granted by Congress to rationally address the needs of our national air transportation system, and that means keeping controllers on the job and continuing to operate contract towers where they are needed for safety and efficiency.”