Alexandria, VA, April 25, 2013 – The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) applauds action taken by the United States Senate to prevent delays and safety implications caused by the Obama Administration’s decision to shutter the contract tower program and furlough air traffic controllers.
The Senate passed legislation provides the Secretary of Transportation the funding flexibility to prevent reduced operations and staffing at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). While the legislation did not directly address the contract tower program, the FAA will now have the flexibility to provide funding for the program. NATA will continue to work with the FAA to develop a common sense approach to ensuring the viability of the contract tower program that brings efficiencies and safety to our aviation system. The House is expected to pass the bill before week’s end.
Congressional leaders in both the House and Senate have introduced legislation to restore funding to protect the contract tower program. Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) offered the Protect Our Skies Act to prevent the Department of Transportation from closing towers during fiscal years 2013 and 2014. On the House side, Reps. Tom Cotton (R-AK), Bruce Braley (D-IA), and Richard Hudson (R-NC) introduced similar legislation. Their bipartisan efforts helped pave the way for the continuation of the contract tower program and the equal distribution of reductions in spending among other FAA programs in a sensible and fair manner.
"Today's action by the Senate is in part due to the ongoing efforts of NATA members engaging in the legislative process. This bipartisan measure provides the means and flexibility for the FAA to prevent the shuttering of the contract tower program thereby ensuring safety and efficiency at many airports across the country - a win for communities and the traveling public," stated NATA President and CEO Thomas L. Hendricks. "We will continue to work with FAA Administrator Huerta to address this important aviation safety program."
Thomas L. Hendricks: "NATA is very pleased about this and believes it was the correct decision by the FAA."
The associations have asked Congress for $136.1 million for the fully funded contract towers as well as $10.35 million authorized for the continuation of the Contact Tower Cost-sharing Program.