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Airport sequester undo could keep towers open, too

By - Last modified: May 6, 2013 at 12:23 PM

When Congress quickly undid its sequester item that furloughed Federal Aviation Administration employees and caused major delays at airports, it moved enough money to also prevent towers, such as those a Capital City and Lancaster airports, from closing, airport officials said. However, no one's sure if the towers will be saved.

“We know there’s enough money there — about $253 million was shifted in the furlough issue — to address the contract tower issue, too. We’re just waiting for (FAA) to render a decision,” said Tim Edwards, executive director of the Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority, which operates Capital City Airport in York County and Harrisburg International Airport in Dauphin County.

The FAA said it is still analyzing the law that President Barack Obama signed on May 1 ending sequester-based furloughs of FAA employees, including air traffic controllers at HIA.

The FAA contracts with a private company, Kansas-based Midwest Air Traffic Control, to provide services at airport towers to be closed, including Capital City and Lancaster, according to the agency. They were part of the 149 towers listed for closure on March 22.

SARAA signed on to legal action with other airport owners attempting to block the tower closures. Originally scheduled for April, the FAA has delayed tower closures until June 15.

The airports in their lawsuit say the FAA didn’t follow procedure, including economic and safety analysis for tower closures, when it created the list to comply with the sequester, Edwards said.

SARAA is still operating under the assumption that Capital City will close in June, but a reason for the closures would be nice, spokesman Scott Miller said.

“Just give us a real justification for this closure, and we’ll honor it,” he said.

 

Jim T. Ryan

Jim T. Ryan

Jim T. Ryan covers Cumberland County, manufacturing, distribution, transportation and logistics. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at jimr@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @JimTRyanCPBJ.

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