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State Proposes to Pay for Air Traffic Controllers Cut by Sequestration

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) might be coming to the temporary rescue for Easterwood Airport after Washington’s withdrawal of support threatened to close the air traffic control tower.

Spokesman Mark Cross says funding Easterwood and Texas’ other 12 threatened airports would use about seven million dollars, some of which would come from state aviation funds.

Cross says a vote will be taken next Thursday morning in Austin, with an announcement of results immediately afterward.

If approved, the funding would keep the towers open for 90 days.

He says he can’t speculate for the commission whether or not they will approve the funds, but says they are taking the issue very seriously.

Cross does not know yet whether private citizens will be able to make donations towards their specific local airports.

MarkCross032813.mp3Mark Cross visits with WTAW’s Kat McMullen

News release courtesy of the Texas Department of Transportation:

In an effort to ensure safety at 13 municipal airports in Texas, the Texas Department of Transportation today said it intends to fund continued service of air traffic controllers when federal funding goes away as a result of sequestration, or budget cuts. This action is pending Texas Transportation Commission approval and will be acted upon in an emergency session next week. The action would enable continued service for 13 airports.

“Safety is the primary reason we felt a need to take immediate action for the air travelers and business aircraft that use these airports,” said Commissioner Fred Underwood, Texas Transportation Commission. “I am proud of our leaders for taking this extraordinary measure to ensure that those relying on these municipal airports will be able to depart and arrive safely and efficiently.”

“Flying is an integral part of commerce in Texas,” said Phil Wilson, TxDOT executive director. “Local communities are counting on these airports to remain open for continued economic success.”

When automatic budget cuts from the federal government went into effect last month, Texas regional airports were caught in the cross hairs and were scheduled to lose funding for air traffic control service positions beginning April 7. Had this funding not been considered, a degradation of safety in those flight operations could have occurred.

Airports that could receive state funding to continue safe operations include:

New Braunfels (BAZ); Brownsville (BRO); Easterwood Field College Station (CLL); TSTC Waco (CNW); Lone Star Executive Houston (CXO); Georgetown Muni (GTU); San Marcos Muni (HYI); Dallas Executive (RBD); Sugarland Regional (SGR); Stinson Muni San Antonio (SSF); Collin County Regional (TKI); Tyler Pounds Regional (TYR); and Victoria Regional (VCT).

Grand Prairie Municipal and Fort Worth Spinks airports remain funded under a federal agreement until September 30, 2013.

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Posted by on Mar 28 2013. Filed under Featured Stories, News.
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