By Justin Franz, 2-22-13
||Caption: A private plane takes off from Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell. - File photo by Lido Vizzutti/Flathead Beacon
Glacier Park International Airport's air traffic control tower is on a list of more than 100 facilities nationwide that could close if the budget sequestration is not avoided next Friday. According to a press release from the Federal Aviation Administration, the shutdowns could happen as early as April.
The level one contract tower controls the movement of airplanes in the area, according to airport director Cindi Martin. If the tower were to close, the area would become uncontrolled airspace, but planes would still be able to fly. The control tower at Glacier Park International Airport opened in 2001.
“We’re not thrilled about this, but it won’t shut us down,” Martin said. “What it will do is slowdown the system.”
On Friday, the FAA announced it was considering furloughing many of its 47,000 employees in order to reduce its expenditures by approximately $600 million. Other cuts would include closing more than 100 air traffic control towers, eliminating the overnight shift at more than 60 facilities and reducing preventive maintenance.
Helena Regional Airport is also on the list of air traffic control facilities that could close.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was at the White House Friday to explain how the cuts may affect the public.
“This is very painful for us because it involves our employees, but it’s going to be very painful for the flying public,” said LaHood, who announced last month he was stepping down from his post later this year.
LaHood was in Montana on Feb. 18 to announce the purchase of two new shuttle buses for Glacier National Park. During a press conference at the Apgar Transit Center he said America’s infrastructure has fallen apart in recent years and that the government must figure out how to pay for improvements.
“Frankly, America is one big pothole right now and we need to invest,” he said.
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