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FAA May Close 6 CT Air Traffic Control Towers Including Danbury

As part of a goal to cut $600 million in costs during 2013 because of federal budget Sequestration, the FAA is making plans to close towers in Danbury, Oxford, Groton, New Haven, Bridgeport and Hartford.

Six airport towers in Connecticut, including one in Danbury, are scheduled to close in April because of the federal budget impasse.

The Federal Secretary of Transportation sent letters on Feb. 22 to airports, trade associations and others saying the sequestration (partial government shutdown) will also lead to longer flight times because of fewer air traffic controllers.

"Flights to major cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco could experience delays of up to 90 minutes during peak hours because we will have fewer controllers on staff," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood wrote to the Department of Defense, Airlines for America, the National Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, among others.

In his letter, LaHood wrote the agency will have to cut $600 million because of the sequestration, and that may mean closing 100 air traffic control towers nationwide. The smaller airports will lose their towers, those airports with fewer than 150,000 take-offs and landings a year. It will also lead to furloughs for 47,000 FAA employees of one day per pay period, but up to as many as two days per pay period between April and September.

"We also expect that as airlines estimate the potential impacts of these furloughs, they will change their schedules and cancel flights," LaHood wrote.

LaHood's letter includes a list of all the airports likely to lose their air traffic control towers in April. In Connecticut, those are Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford, Danbury Municipal Airport, Groton-New London Airport in Groton (New London,) Hartford-Brainard in Hartford, Tweed New Haven in New Haven, and Waterbury-Oxford in Oxford.

Danbury Airport Administrator Paul Estefan said Danbury has about 80,000 take-offs and landings a year, which means the Danbury tower is likely to close in April when the FAA sets a closure date.

"If they can't resolve the budget, I guess that's the game plan," Estefan said. "The real question is after the sequestration, will they bring them back and how long will that take?"

Steven DeVaux February 25, 2013 at 12:20 PM
There is more than enough money to keep them open. They just have to choose to stop aid to Libya, Iraq or Haiti and they have all the funds needed. The foreign aid, diverted to DOMESTIC AID is clearly a rational approach. That's a choice the Obama administration has to make, not Congress - remember that.

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