Cantwell, Bipartisan Senate Coalition Work to Keep Contract Towers Open

<p>Yakima Air Tower</p>

Yakima Air Tower

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined a bipartisan coalition of 41 senators in urging the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to use the flexibility provided by legislation passed last week to stop the planned closure of 149 contract towers – including five in Washington state.

Cantwell – the Chairwoman of the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security – joined her colleagues in calling for the towers to remain open past next month. Without action, the 149 towers are slated for closure on June 15. The five Washington state towers slated for closure are: Renton Municipal Airport, Tacoma Narrows Airport, Yakima Air Terminal/McAllister Field, Felts Field in Spokane, and Olympia Regional Airport.

The Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013 passed the U.S. Senate on April 25 and the U.S. House on April 26, and was signed into law by President Obama on May 1. It allows the FAA to transfer up to $253 million in funding from other accounts within the department to the FAA in order to end the furloughs for 47,000 FAA employees and end the planned closure of 149 contract towers.

In a letter sent Thursday to DOT Secretary Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, the senators stated that Congressional intent of the legislation was for the contract towers to remain open, in order to ensure a “safe and efficient air transportation system” as the legislation outlines.