Feds Rescind Tower Closure/Cutbacks At Victoville & Ontario Airports

(May 17) WASHINGTON—Both Ontario International Airport and Southern California Logistics Airport were granted at least temporary reprieves from the cutbacks the FAA intended to impose this month.
Previously the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gave indication that the control tower at Southern California Logistics Airport would be one of 149 air traffic control facilities nationwide targeted for closure  and that the control tower at Ontario International was one of 72 such facilities where overnight shifts would be eliminated.
Those moves were economies proposed by the Federal Aviation Administration to accommodate $637 million in reductions brought on by the federal sequestration spending cuts, which went into effect March 1.
The tower closures  were scheduled to go into effect on May 1 and subsequently moved to June 15.
Last week, however, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told Congress the Obama administration will intercede to at least temporarily prevent the 149 small airport towers, including the one at Southern California Logistics Airport (SCLA), from being shuttered and keep air traffic controllers nationwide from being furloughed, ensuring that Ontario Airport will be able to maintain nighttime operations.
A bill approved in draft form last week and ratified this week temporarily puts into abeyance sequestration measures that would have impacted airport operations, giving LaHood the option of shifting up to $253 million among various accounts to “prevent reduced operations and staffing of the FAA.”
That is a stopgap measure that has been taken in anticipation of Congress and the administration coming to terms on the issues that forced the sequestration gambit in the first place.
In the meantime, SCLA officials are putting exigency plans in place to allow the airport to continue to operate if the funding it uses to maintain a $750,000 per year contract for air controllers it has with Serco Management Services is cancelled.
Southern California Logistics Airport is a passage point for roughly 50,000 military troops rotated annually through the Army National Training Center at Fort Irwin, which does not have an airstrip that can accommodate airliners. There are numerous other aviation services businesses which operate at SCLA.
At Ontario, a major portion of the United Parcel Service’s cargo flights take place at night.
No specific assurance on the towers has been given by the FAA or LaHood, but the Obama Administration has indicated that it is sensitive to requests by senators Susan Collins, R-Maine and Mark Udall, D-Colo., that the towers remain open, and said it will reduce the cuts to be imposed on the FAA.

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