Rep. Joe Barton (R-Arlington/Ennis) issued the following statement after the announcement of this decision:
Due to the impacts of sequestration, which took place on March 1, 2013, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Secretary Ray LaHood made a decision to close 189 federal contract towers beginning on April 7th. Three of the towers in this initial list of closures are in the 6th District.
Rep. Barton arranged a meeting with Regional FAA Administrator Teresa Bruner and senior city and local officials in Arlington, Grand Prairie, and Fort Worth to express his concerns regarding these closures. At this meeting, Administrator Bruner announced that the towers at Arlington Municipal, Fort Worth Spinks Airport, and Grand Prairie Municipal would remain open.
"I am happy to report that the following federal contract towers will remain open in North Texas: Arlington Municipal, Fort Worth-Spinks, and Grand Prairie Municipal," Rep. Barton said. "These towers are in place to ensure the safety of our air traffic control, and I believe that the FAA has made the right decision to keep these towers open. I'm grateful to Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson for joining me in the effort to keep these towers open.
I support reducing federal spending and understand that sequestration is part of that process, but it should be done smartly. The FAA decision to keep these towers open is a smart one."
On March 21, 2013, Rep. Barton (TX-06) and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30) sent a joint letter to FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta expressing concerns over the closures of Arlington Municipal, Fort Worth- Spinks, and Grand Prairie Municipal.
The full letter reads as follows
Mr. Michael P. Huerta
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20951
Dear Administrator Huerta:
We realize that, in response to the sequestration cuts contained in the Budget Control Act, your agency has had to make very difficult decisions in terms of cost cutting measures. It is our understanding that, in addition to employee furloughs, the FAA will likely cease to provide funding for 173 Contract Towers on April 7, 2013. Your agency identified these airport traffic control towers for possible closure because each of the towers has fewer than 150,000 total operations, and fewer than 10,000 commercial operations. For the reasons outlined below, we believe that three of those airport towers slated for closure, Grand Prairie Municipal Airport, Arlington Municipal Airport and Fort Worth Spinks Airport, should remain open.
You noted in your February 27, 2013, testimony before the House Aviation Subcommittee that the FAA is working to "identify any locations where the national interest would be adversely affected b tower closure." We believe that these airport traffic towers meet this criteria because of their close proximity to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). DFW is the fourth busiest airport in the world in terms of aircraft movements. In addition to serving DFW's overflow traffic, Grand Prairie, Arlington, Spinks have flight paths in direct alignment with DFW.
In contrast to smaller airports in rural areas, these airports have the additional burden of coexisting with one of the busiest airports in the world. The closure of any tower would negatively impact the local economy, and the effects of sequestration to local economies are truly regrettable. However, these airports, while limited in their respective operations, must perform their operation under much more strenuous conditions and in a more congested environment than other small airports throughout the Nation. These airports must remain open not solely because of their positive impact on the local economy, but to ensure the public's safety.
We are very concerned about the conditions under which these airports will continue to operate, requiring pilots to land without the assistance of air traffic control. Given the congestion of the skies in the North Texas and the proximity to DFW and its significant air travel, the loss of the towers would create unacceptable safety risks. For these reasons, we posit that these airports' towers do indeed serve the national interest, and respectfully request that the towers continue to receive federal funding.
We appreciate your leadership in this very difficult fiscal climate. Thank you for your consideration of our request, and for your continued service to our country.
Eddie Bernice Johnson Joe Barton