Air traffic control towers to close due to sequestration
Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 21, 2013 23:03
With Congress stopping negotiations on the sequestration, or across the board cuts, $85 billion in spending cuts have been triggered, creating big changes for smaller airports.
The Federal Aviation Association recently announced that they need to save $600 thousand through this fiscal year in accordance with the recent sequester.
While that amounts to about five to 10 percent of their budget, one of their programs—the contract tower program—is facing a 75 percent reduction.
This is leading to many air traffic towers being shut down around the nation.
“The Federal Administration announced about nine days ago that they would be closing 289 air traffic control towers across the U.S.,” Arlington Municipal Airport Director Karen VanWinkle said.
In 31 years the FAA has only closed three towers.
Now 238 towers will be closing on April 1, including the one in Arlington Municipal Airport.
The rest of the towers will close in the following months.
In all, 19 towers in Texas have been named for closure, many of them in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, including Dallas Executive, Collin County Regional and Fort Worth Spinks.
“Basically we’re all in the same shape,” VanWinkle said.
“No consideration was given to where these airports were located. Arlington is the home airport to the Dallas Cowboy stadium and to the Texas Rangers baseball stadium. We’re also in the heart of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.”
So how do these cuts look for the air traffic controllers who will lose their jobs?
“Not good, I’m afraid,” VanWinkle said. “The controllers that lose their jobs through the sequestration are going to be in a tight job market.”
It also won’t be good for the average commercial flyer.
VanWinkle said the effects won’t be immediate at first, but will gradually grow to a bigger problem.
“More congestion, more delays—anytime something happens, say we have a surprise thunderstorm or something that would delay traffic usually just a bit, you’ll see longer and longer delays.”
Arlington Municipal Airport is planning on contesting the closure of their tower and keeping the jobs of the six air traffic controllers who would be furloughed if this goes through.
The FAA said they would be willing to consider a case-by-case basis on whether or not they should close the towers in certain areas.
VanWinkle believes Arlington can make a good case for their airport.