The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Friday that it will restore the funding needed to support continued operation of the Ithaca air traffic control tower, as well as 148 other airport contract towers across the country, through the end of the federal fiscal year September 30. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced DOT has determined that the recently enacted Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013 will allow the FAA to transfer sufficient funds to keep the contract towers open for the remainder of this fiscal year. The towers, including Ithaca’s, had been scheduled to close as of June 15, as a result of federal sequestration.
“I am absolutely delighted to hear that our air traffic control tower will be allowed to stay open,” said Airport Manager Bob Nicholas. “It is a hugely important facility for the smooth flow of air traffic and the efficiency of our airline partners. My thanks to all the hard work from the Air Services Board, Tompkins County officials, Cornell, Ithaca College and a whole host of others who have used their time and influence to lobby people in Washington. Due to their efforts the FAA now clearly understands what the tower means to this airport and the community in general.”
“The work done by the public and private leadership within Tompkins County to articulate and elevate the importance of contract air traffic control towers played a part in today’s decision,” said Air Services Board Chair and Tompkins County Area Development President, Michael Stamm. “I’m grateful for the time invested in this effort by so many people, and for the willingness of Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, and Representative Reed to listen to our concerns and then so ably advocate on our behalf in Washington. Our airport is vital to our knowledge-based economy. Today’s decision will contribute to continued growth of the region’s economy.”
“We are elated that the FAA and DOT have decided to restore full funding to the Ithaca Tompkins air traffic control tower and the other contract towers around the country,” added Larry Baum, member of the Tompkins County Air Services Board. “The members of the Air Services Board, County, and our major employers have worked tirelessly with these agencies and our elected officials to explain the need to maintain a control tower at Ithaca. We all recognize that the airport and continued strong airline service are vital components of this area’s transportation and economic infrastructure.”
“We are very grateful that this problem has been addressed for the next five months, and hope there will be a permanent solution in the next federal budget, said Martha Robertson, Chair of the Tompkins County Legislature. “We hope this will be the start of a more responsible approach to other casualties of the sequestration, like funding for Meals-on-Wheels and Head Start, where federal cuts are less publicized but are causing great hardship to ordinary Americans.”