Congressman Joe Pitts (PA-16) voiced his opposition to the Federal Aviation Administration's plan to potentially close the control tower at Lancaster Airport. While the FAA claims the shutdown is necessary because of sequestration cuts, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee analysis shows that the agency should be able to continue full operations under their present budget.
"The open secret in Washington is that President Obama is trying to find the most painful ways to cut the federal budget under sequestration. Two out of every three towers slated for closure are in Republican Congressional districts," said Pitts. "Unfortunately, this political game has real implications for public safety."
The Lancaster Airport control tower was placed on a list of facilities that could be closed starting April 7. While sequestration cuts include the FAA, the agency is actually well-positioned to absorb the cuts without drastic cuts to service. Despite a 27 percent decrease in the number of flights in the last ten years, the FAA operations budget has increase 41 percent.
Budget analysis from House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee staff shows that the FAA could absorb all the sequestration cuts by imposing a hiring freeze, using savings from the first quarter of fiscal year 2013 and reducing non-personnel costs by 7 percent. None of these actions would require towers to be closed.
"I realize that a reduced federal budget means that some local services will be cut, but there is little need to cut these towers that protect lives and livelihoods," said Pitts. "The President needs to get priorities straight."