Congressman Blake Farenthold (TX-27) today sent a letter to Texas Transportation Commission Chairman Ted Houghton, Jr. to commend the Commission's swift action ensuring that there is no gap in coverage at any of Texas' local airport facilities due to sequestration cuts. The Commission formally announced on Monday that it intends to fund continued service of air traffic control towers when the federal funding used to currently operate them is cut.
"I applaud the Commission's recognition of the impact that closure of the FAA's contract tower at Victoria Regional Airport and others throughout Texas would have had on safety, jobs, small aviation-related businesses, and our regional economies," Rep. Farenthold said in the letter.
"As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I will continue to question the Obama administration's reasoning behind the FAA's furloughs to air traffic controllers and the closure of contract control towers throughout the nation," concluded the Congressman.
The actions of the Congressman and the Texas Transportation Commission are a result of an announcement the Federal Aviation Administration made last month that they may be forced to close air traffic control towers in smaller airports as a result of sequestration cuts. In response to that announcement, Rep. Farenthold sent a letter to Michael Huerta, the FAA Administrator, saying he was "deeply troubled" by the agency's plans, citing the economic benefits of local airports, like the one in Victoria, Texas. The letter also asked the Administration what it costs to operate the tower the Victoria tower, as state and local entities had made it clear they would pick up the funding if the FAA followed through on their threat to close the tower.
While these plans to prevent closures are imperative for smaller airports across the country, it was announced today that the FAA has decided to delay the closures of all 149 federal contract air traffic control towers until June 15.