Today, Congressman Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville) announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has delayed the closure of all 149 federal contract air traffic control towers until June 15th, including the local tower in Brownsville. Last month, the FAA announced it would eliminate funding for these towers as part of the agency's required $637 million budget cuts under sequestration. That phased closure process will no longer occur. Instead, the FAA will stop funding all 149 towers on June 15 and will close the facilities unless the airports decide to continue operations as a nonfederal contract tower.
"I am pleased that the FAA has decided to delay the closure of the aircraft control tower at the Brownsville Airport," said Congressman Vela. "Additionally, I am glad the FAA has listened to my colleagues and me, delaying their hasty judgment. Although this is only temporary, my hope is that the FAA recognizes the harmful consequences closing this tower would have."
Yesterday, Congressman Vela joined 46 other Members of Congress in sending a letter to the FAA, urging them to consider all alternatives to closing these towers in order to maintain some level of service and ensuring air safety. Last month, Congressman Vela also sent letters to Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood urging him to reconsider the decision. This letter was also forwarded to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Secretary of State John Kerry because of the international and border implications.