WASHINGTON – U.S. Congressman Brad Schneider, 10th District, signed a letter urging U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to use the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) new funding flexibility to keep open Waukegan Regional Airport’s control tower and the 148 other contract towers scheduled for closure.
In April, Congress passed legislation to provide the Department of Transportation with more flexibility to redirect millions of dollars in order to avoid air traffic controller layoffs.
“Waukegan Regional Airport is a critical part of our local economy, and keeping its control tower open is important to maintaining safety and production,” Schneider said. “While both sides need to come together to fully address the arbitrary and irresponsible sequester cuts, it is crucial that we maintain our nation’s control towers that keep our skies safe and our communities flying.”
“Our airport has a recognized record of safety and keeping our control tower open is vital to maintaining our current operations and ensuring the safety of the more than 50,000 flights we handle every year,” Jim Stanczak, Waukegan Regional Airport Manager, said. “Congressman Schneider has been active in support of our control tower and understands how important maintaining normal operations here in Waukegan is for the entire region.”
Waukegan Regional Airport fields more than 50,000 flights and generating more than $130 million in economic output each year. The airport’s control tower was one of 149 tapped by the FAA for closure as part of sequestration. Schneider has been a strong advocate on behalf of maintaining contract-tower operations.
Contract towers handle 28 percent of air travel and represent 14 percent of the FAA budget, but were disproportionately affected by the sequester.