FAA May Close Danbury Air Traffic Control Tower, Others in CT

As part of a goal to cut $600 million in costs during 2013 because of federal budget Sequestration, the FAA is making plans to close towers in Danbury, Oxford, Groton, New Haven, Bridgeport and Hartford.

Danbury Municipal Airport's air traffic control tower is scheduled to close in April along with five other airport towers in Connecticut because of the federal budget impasse. 

The Federal Secretary of Transportation sent letters on Feb. 22 to airports, trade associations and others saying the sequestration (partial government shutdown) will also lead to longer flight times because of fewer air traffic controllers.

"Flights to major cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco could experience delays of up to 90 minutes during peak hours because we will have fewer controllers on staff," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood wrote to the Department of Defense, Airlines for America, the National Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, among others.

The Danbury Air Traffic Control Tower employs six people. In his letter, LaHood wrote the agency will have to cut $600 million because of the sequestration, and that may mean closing 100 air traffic control towers nationwide. The smaller airports will lose their towers, those airports with fewer than 150,000 take-offs and landings a year. It will also lead to furloughs for 47,000 FAA employees of one day per pay period, but up to as many as two days per pay period between April and September.

"We also expect that as airlines estimate the potential impacts of these furloughs, they will change their schedules and cancel flights," LaHood wrote.

Danbury Airport Administrator Paul Estefan said Danbury has about 80,000 take-offs and landings a year, which means the Danbury tower is likely to close in April when the FAA sets a closure date.

LaHood's letter includes a list of all the airports likely to lose their air traffic control towers in April. In Connecticut, those are Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Bridgeport, Danbury Municipal Airport, Groton-New London Airport in Groton (New London,) Hartford-Brainard in Hartford, Tweed New Haven in New Haven, and Waterbury-Oxford in Oxford.

"If they can't resolve the budget, I guess that's the game plan," Estefan said. "The real question is after the sequestration, will they bring them back and how long will that take?"

Thomas Crafts February 24, 2013 at 09:40 PM
Blame Obummer, it was his idea.
Freddy February 25, 2013 at 02:40 AM
@Thomas - you know that's completely wrong, correct? This only came about because the GOP in 2011 refused to raise the debt ceiling without massive cutbacks to the fed. budget. Because the parties couldn't reach a grand compromise then (mostly because the GOP refused to raise taxes/revenue even $1) to help balance the budget, they created this stupid sequester with the hope that it would be so bad that they would be forced to compromise. Personally, I think they should just kill the damn sequester and act like adults without the threat of killing government (and the Danbury airport). I guarantee the Dems would accept that deal today. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/09/14/the-sequester-explained/
Jeff February 25, 2013 at 04:42 AM
@Freddy, you should remove your tin hat more often! You reference an article from September 2012 that doesn't account for the fact that Republicans not only granted another debt ceiling increase , but also a tax increase. I'm sure this was an honest mistake and you had no intention to mislead? If triggered, the sequester will reduce federal spending by roughly 2.2% — $85 billion will be cut from a federal spending budget of $3.8 trillion this year, according to ABC News. And the 10-year cuts will total $1.2 trillion out of a projected spending budget of $47.2 trillion — or less than 0.3%. Obama blames Republicans for a budget sequestration scheme his own White House spokesman Tuesday admitted was Obama's idea, the president is frightening us about devastating cuts to the government — from border patrols to emergency responders, from schools to medicine, from the FBI to air traffic control. These tall tales of the sequester bringing the world to an end are illustrative of all the various federal government entrenched bureaucracies operating on automatic pilot to defend their far-ranging, ever-expanding fiefdoms. President Obama could have planned "a smart, thoughtful way" to manage the sequester he promised during last year's campaign would never happen. But why would the biggest spender in history do that? Click this link and then come back and tell me we don't need to cut spending. $16.58 Trillion and counting!!!!!!!! http://www.usdebtclock.org/
Thomas Crafts February 25, 2013 at 12:30 PM
The sequester was Obama's suggestion as a way to ensure that some kind of agreement would be reached. This is Obama's mechanism, he came up with it. Now he gets to live with the consequences.
Michael February 25, 2013 at 02:34 PM
If our gov't acted like adults then they would realize they don't have the money to spend, stop borrowing and implement DEEP CUTS! As far as Danbury airport is concerned flying is an expensive hobby and those individuals should bear the cost to operate the tower not the public.


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