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FAA May Close Danbury Air Traffic Control Tower (Six in CT)

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.

Danbury Municipal Airport's air traffic control tower is scheduled to close in April along with five other airport towers in Connecticut 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.

The Danbury Air Traffic Control Tower employs six people. 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.

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.

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 Bridgeport, 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.

"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?"

bordwithbs February 24, 2013 at 01:31 PM
Here's a dilemma for our Republican mayor. Party loyalty, or denigrate the Obama Administration. Of course, the airport issues are getting hotter and hotter as time goes on, and less and less is done there that adheres to the rules. Maybe the property can be developed as another mall, actually providing the city positive cash flow, or maybe it can be returned to a cow pasture. I'm sure the Democrats will be the subject of the spin that will place fault on them....
Warren Levy February 24, 2013 at 01:45 PM
The fear tactics used by the administration is disgusting. How about stop acting like a bunch of children and stop playing the blame game and put a seriously budget together.
Semmas February 24, 2013 at 03:30 PM
The Federal government can pick and choose what it wants to cut. I think cutting any essential part of government (such as air traffic controllers) is simply the Feds making a statement. This Federal government is so bloated and there are so many other things they can cut that wouldn't make much of an impact at all. This is 100% politics folks. And when the gov't says policemen, firefighters, teachers, etc. etc. will lose their jobs, how can that be when they are paid for by state taxpayers? The Feds don't pay these people. It makes no sense to me at all. My view is - let the cuts go through and let's see if the country falls apart. My guess is that it won't.
Dave Bonan February 25, 2013 at 01:01 AM
danbury is the busiest municipal airport in the state. and many other of the airports mentioned are pretty heavily trafficked with more infrastructure. this does not bode well for the future of the airport. maybe the folks who live nearby will enjoy less noise instead of blaming themselves for moving near an airport.
Mike Mc March 07, 2013 at 11:49 AM
How stupid closing airport towers to save $600 Millions dollars. If the people start voting out the dead wood sitting in Washington,DC we can save alot of money. I know Chris Murphy got his Foot in Washington now and you don't here a Peep out of him, save money there.

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