Congress passed a bill to prevent traffic controller furloughs by granting $253 million to the Federal Aviation Administration. And it may also keep the contract towers slated for closure, like the one in Nashua, running through the end of the year.
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta told House lawmakers last week that it is saving about $224 million with air traffic controller furloughs and another $25 million from closing the 149 contract towers at small to mid-sized airports like Nashua.
And while the money Congress gave the FAA as an airport improvement grant covers those savings, it does not explicitly mandate how the money is to be spent. Only that it should “prevent reduced operations and staffing… to ensure a safe and efficient air transportation system.” The Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has the authority to save all or some of the contract towers from being closed on June 15th. But it is unclear at this point if Nashua’s tower will be spared.
Manchester Boston Regional Airport was bracing for potential furloughs that would eliminate their overnight tower shift. Nashua’s control tower has expected to lose federal funding in mid-June but the Nashua Airport Authority has agreed to pay for the following month if the FAA does not maintain federal aid.