Wednesday, November 26, 2014

News
Griffiss Air Traffic Control Tower will close due to sequestration cuts
By ANDREW DONOVAN


ROME, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Air Traffic Control tower at Griffiss International Airport will close due to sequestration cuts, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Friday.

The agency will close 149 contract towers over a four week period beginning on April 7.

It is not known if or when the tower would reopened.

The FAA determined that 24 towers previously listed for closure will remain open because of national security concerns, but that does not include Griffiss.

Additionally, the agency determined that 16 contract towers in the cost-share program will remain open until September 30.

With 251 towers in the contract tower program, the closure of 149 towers is a nearly 60 percent reduction for the program.

While closure of the tower wouldn't force the airport to close, Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente previously said its loss could hurt efforts to promote the airport for future development.

Oneida County had the chance to prove to the FAA that keeping the tower open is a matter of 'national interest,' but those efforts were not successful.

"Eastern Air Defense sector is located at Griffiss, Rome Lab, which is vital to America's defense, but more importantly, the aircraft again that comes in and out of there is essential," Picente said.

$72 million has been spent in the Griffiss airport facility, Picente said.

"Cutting funding for this tower is a mistake," Picente stated. "Without this tower the Military loses a valuable training site that cannot be replaced as well as an invaluable staging area for disaster relief. In addition the FAA and, by default, Oneida County will have lost $72 Million we can never get back."

Congressman Richard (R-22) released a statement Friday following the announcement. Hanna said, “The FAA’s decision to close the air traffic control tower at Griffiss is disturbing and I’m troubled at the lack of transparency in the Administration’s decision-making. The FAA decided to stop funding operations at two contract towers in Central New York, but will keep open towers on Long Island and Western New York – without any justification or explanation. The agency has been obstinate in providing Congress with information on how it is reaching these conclusions.”

Hanna continued, “Our military trains at Griffiss, which offers some of the most unique infrastructure in the northeastern United States, and it is a well-regarded homeland security staging area. The FAA should still seek out smarter savings within its budget as members of Congress like myself work to replace sequestration permanently.”