As the U.S. Department of Transportation makes decisions about how to implement across-the-board, automatic sequestration cuts, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) along with Representatives Carol Shea-Porter (NH-1) and Annie Kuster (NH-2) urged Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to continue air traffic control services at the Nashua Municipal Airport.
Nashua Municipal Airport was recently placed on a preliminary list of air traffic control towers which would be targeted for potential closure beginning April 7 as a result of sequestration. A final list of affected airports will be released on Monday, March 18.
"Nashua Municipal Airport is among the most used general aviation facilities in New England and supports a range of commercial, corporate and military flight operations," the letter said. "We believe that the [airport] plays an important role in the national aviation system as a regional relief destination for more congested facilities and urge you to preserve funding for air traffic control services there."
The potential closure of the air traffic tower would come only months after the FAA finished work on a $24 million project to upgrade the runway at the airport. The project was designed to improve safety and bring new businesses to the region, but those upgrades could be undermined by the closure of the tower.
The closure would also threaten Nashua's ability to provide relief for other airports affected by excessive congestion or safety concerns. Last year the FAA classified the Nashua airport as an asset of national importance due to the important role it plays in the safe and efficient functioning of the aviation system in New England and nationally.
The full text of the letter is below:
March 12, 2013
The Honorable Ray LaHood
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590-9898
Dear Secretary LaHood:
We write to register our opposition to the Federal Aviation Administration's plans to eliminate funding for air traffic control services at Nashua Municipal Airport (ASH).
Nashua Municipal Airport is among the most used general aviation facilities in New England and supports a range of commercial, corporate and military flight operations. Nashua, moreover, hosts five flight schools and is an important alternative destination that helps relieve aviation traffic congestion from other regional and national airports, including Boston-Logan International Airport and Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. In fact, last year the FAA classified ASH as an asset of national importance due to the important role it plays in the safe and efficient functioning of the aviation system in New England and nationally.
In order to improve the performance of this important asset, the FAA invested $24 million in a project to upgrade the runway at ASH. Eliminating funding to provide air traffic control services at Nashua Municipal Airport will shift traffic to other facilities, undermining the effectiveness of the FAA's recent investment. Closing Nashua's air traffic control tower, moreover, will have a negative impact on safety given the diverse mix of amateur and professional aviators that utilize the facility.
We believe that the Nashua Municipal Airport plays an important role in the national aviation system as a regional relief destination for more congested facilities and urge you to preserve funding for air traffic control services there. Thank you for your consideration of this important matter.