LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Albany airport contract air tower funded through end of fiscal year

Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor

Now that Congress has approved and the president has signed legislation to fund the federal government through Sept. 30, we would like to give special thanks to our congressional delegation. We thank Rep. Sanford Bishop, Sen. Saxby Chambliss and Sen. Johnny Isakson for their outstanding leadership in protecting aviation safety in our community.

As many will recall, the Federal Aviation Administration announced plans last spring to close 149 contract air traffic control towers nationwide, including Albany’s, in an attempt to deal with budget cuts caused by sequestration. We argued vigorously against the FAA’s plans given the very serious impact that closing federal contract towers would have on aviation safety in our community and across the country.

Thanks to the leadership and support of our congressional delegation and a bipartisan group of lawmakers who recognized the vital safety benefits that FAA contract towers provide the nation’s air transportation system, our contract tower and others were spared from closure last year. The recently enacted budget bill approved by Congress a few weeks ago ensures that these critical air traffic facilities remain open through this fiscal year.

The FAA contract tower program, with 252 participating airports across the country, continues to be one of FAA’s most cost-effective programs for taxpayers and is a shining example of “smart” government programs during this challenging federal budget period.

The air traffic controllers in Albany also serve as an invaluable back-up to our automated weather observation equipment for Delta and UPS flights. Without a local weather observer, Albany would be unable to accept those commercial flights in case of weather observation equipment outages.

Again, thank you Rep. Bishop, Sen. Chambliss and Sen. Isakson for your efforts to protect the contract tower program and aviation safety. The aviation community in the city of Albany remains grateful for your leadership.