Federal funding announced Monday ensures that federally-contracted air traffic control towers, like the tower at Hagerstown Regional Airport, will remain open through September 2014.
U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said in a news release that $130 million has been earmarked to keep all 149 contract towers open through fiscal year 2013-14, which ends Sept. 30, 2014.
“This hard-fought action to fund our federal air traffic control contract towers is good news for our economic security, national security and jobs,” Mikulski said in the release.
Funding had been set to expire at the end of the federal fiscal year on Sept. 30, putting contract towers at five Maryland regional airports in danger of being shut down.
In addition to Hagerstown, the other four airport towers slated to close due to the federal across-the-board cuts known as sequestration were at Easton/Newnam Field, Frederick Municipal Airport, Martin State Airport and Salisbury-Ocean City Wicomico Regional Airport.
“The stress and strain of potential closures of regional contract towers underscores that sequester and uncertainty is having real impacts in real communities with real consequences,” Mikulski said. “By ensuring the continued operation of our regional airports, we will make our nation safer and Maryland’s economy stronger.”
After it was signed into law by President Obama, the FAA announced on May 10 that the closure of Hagerstown Regional Airport’s tower was pushed back until Sept. 30.
“This new extension through September 30, 2014, is great news; however, Washington County government will continue to work with partners to advocate for the indefinite solution to keep the control tower open,” James Jenkins, manager of county Public Relations and Community Affairs, said in the release.