Budget Cuts Lead to Closure of Ithaca Air Traffic Control Tower
The management of the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport is warning about the impacts that closing air-traffic control towers including the one at Ithaca Airport will have.
Airport manager Bob Nicholas says closing the tower due to federal budget cuts wil not effect local air traffic safety and flights, but it threatens to cause disruptions throughout the entire system.
The Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport will be one of 149 airports to lose funding for their air-traffic control tower starting April 7. The move the Federal Aviation Administration is intended to save $75 million.
Workers at the other 301 towers operated by the FAA will have unpaid furloughs one day for every two-week pay period through the end of September as the agency slashes a total of $637 million due to sequestration.
Locally, the closing of the tower means the termination of five controllers, but will not otherwise imperil the safety or operation of the airport.
Currently, controllers in the Elmira Corning Regional Airport tower handle flights up to five miles from Ithaca before handing off control to the local tower. When the Ithaca tower closes, pilots will self-queue through radio communication with other arriving and departing planes, according to Nicholas.
The real trouble will be at the larger airports where fewer controllers could lead to delays and cancellations, particularly as summer traffic builds up.