Rep. Jim Costa supported legislation that would reduce airport delays and maintain the midnight shift at Fresno Yosemite International Airport's air traffic control tower, which supports the mission of the 144th Fighter Wing. The Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013 also gives the Administration the flexibility to reverse their decision to shutter Castle Airport's air traffic control operations, a move Costa has been urging the FAA to take since March.
With a vote of 361 to 41, the House overwhelmingly approved the bill that unanimously cleared the Senate last night aimed at resolving recent flight delays related to sequestration. It is now headed to the President's desk for signature.
"The misguided sequester has put the safety and efficiency of our skies in jeopardy," said Costa."With an overwhelming bipartisan vote, the House has rolled back dangerous staffing reductions at our nation's airports. FAA now has all the tools necessary to keep our skies safe and continue all operations at Fresno Yosemite Airport and Merced's Castle Airport."
Specifically, the Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013 allows the Department of Transportation to shift $253 million in unobligated balances of the Airport Improvement Program to operations and staffing at the FAA. This move would eliminate the necessity for furloughing FAA employees at the nation's air traffic control towers. The bill also allows the FAA to shift funds for other programs within the FAA giving the Secretary the ability to maintain service at FAA contract towers such as Castle Airport and non-contract towers such as Fresno International Airport.
Costa also made clear in a statement that the flexibility given to the FAA under this bill must be used to end furloughs, to maintain the midnight air traffic control tower shift at airports across the country including Fresno Yosemite International Airport, and to prevent the closure of 149 air traffic control towers including the tower at Merced's Castle Airport. Continuity of service at both Fresno Yosemite and Castle Airport are critical to military operations and natural disaster response among other important services.