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FAA Tower Closures Include Two in New York

The Federal Aviation Administration has decided which federal contract air-traffic control towers will close. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says the closures come because of required cuts under sequestration.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s FAA decided that 149 federal contract towers will close beginning April 7 as part of the agency’s sequestration implementation plan. The number is 40 fewer than initially thought, and does not include control towers that are federally staffed.

On the FAA list released Friday, there are two towers targeted for closure in New York, and both are in Oneida County – at Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport, and at Griffis International Airport in Rome. Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente says he is surprised that Griffis, especially, made the list.

He says the closures will affect area businesses that rely on having international flights for their customer bases.

Last month, when news broke that the FAA was planning a closure list, Democratic Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney in the Hudson Valley made a case for leaving the tower at Dutchess County Airport staffed. Ron Hicks is the Deputy Commissioner for Strategic Planning & Economic Development for Dutchess County.

Dutchess County Airport’s tower is not on the closure list because the tower is federally staffed, and no federally-staffed towers are on the list.

Last month, Hicks expressed concern that closing the tower at Dutchess Airport would stymie new investment in the region, and make it difficult to attract new business. In fact, Dutchess is courting a Fortune 100 business, and Hicks says discussions continue. He said closing the tower would have made it very difficult to retain the company’s interest. Both he and Maloney said the airport is key in serving as an engine for economic growth.

A federal official says the FAA will negotiate with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association regarding any service reductions at federally-staffed towers, a process that could take up to one year.

Meanwhile, other towers scheduled for closure on the federal contract tower list include those at Worcester-Regional Airport in Massachusetts; and, in Connecticut, at Danbury Municipal Airport, and Hartford-Brainard Airport.

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