Stop-gap legislation enacted in late May enabled the FAA to abandon its budget-trimming plan–prompted by sequestration cuts imposed by Congress–to close the 149 contract air traffic control towers starting on June 15. However, the agency left open the possibility that the towers could be closed when the new fiscal year starts on October 1, which is now just two weeks away.
While the U.S. Contract Tower Association (USCTA) has been leading the industry’s fight to keep the towers operational, the USTCA also acknowledges efforts by individual airports and communities. One such example is a recent letter sent to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) from Russ Maguire, manager of Norwood Memorial Airport (OWD) near Boston.
“For more than three decades, the contract tower program has provided essential air traffic safety services [at OWD] at a great value to the FAA and to the taxpayers,” Maguire wrote. “Our contract tower personnel work seven days a week to safely manage, on average, 80,000 to 100,000 operations each year, accommodating a mix of corporate/business aircraft, along with pilot training. Any uncertainty over funding will most likely create significant safety and operational concerns in our community and within the flying public.”
“Congress has not yet approved a budget for FY 2014, so we do not have an update on future funding allocations,” an FAA spokeswoman told AIN.