The Department of Transportation will continue operations at Sawyer International Airport – and 148 other contract towers – at least through the end of the fiscal year. The facilities were previously scheduled for closure on June 15.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood made the announcement today, saying the “DOT has determined that the recently enacted Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013 will allow the FAA to transfer sufficient funds to end employee furloughs and keep the 149 low activity contract towers originally slated for closure in June open for the remainder of fiscal year 2013.”
The FAA will also put $10 million towards reducing cuts and delays in core NextGen programs and will allocate approximately $11 million to partially restore the support of infrastructure in the national airspace system.
“We are grateful that the leaders of DOT and the Federal Aviation Administration have moved to utilize the clear authority provided by the Congress to keep contract towers open and operational beyond June 15. The broad coalition of communities, airports, air traffic controllers, aviation system users, and Members of Congress that has emerged in recent months united in the fight to keep contract towers open is a testament to the important role these facilities play in enhancing the safety and efficiency of the nation’s aviation system,” said J. Spencer Dickerson, Executive Director of the U.S. Contract Tower Association.
Dickerson applauded the work of a bi-partisan group of lawmakers across the country, “We appreciate the leadership of the dozens of senators and members of the U.S. House of Representatives who have worked diligently to ensure that these important air traffic facilities remain open now and well into the future.”
The full U.S. Senate and 84 percent of the U.S. House of Representatives, including First District Congressman Dan Benishek (R-Crystal Falls) voted for the Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013.