Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Federal funding to keep airport's controllers on the job

A $1 trillion federal spending bill signed into law last week includes $144.5 million to fund 149 contract air-traffic control towers at regional airports across the nation, including the Hagerstown Regional Airport, according to U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski.

The funding through the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015 — which also benefits nearby Frederick Municipal Airport and three other Maryland regional airports — ensures that the air-traffic control towers will stay open at least through Sept. 30, 2015.

Mikulski said in a news release that the funding for federal contract air-traffic control towers is "good news" for jobs and communities in Western Maryland, as well as other areas served by smaller regional airports.

"In recent years, these contract towers and their communities have faced shutdown, furloughs and uncertainty," she said. "... I will keep fighting to ensure the continued operation of our regional airports, making our nation safer and our economy stronger."

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced plans last year to close 149 federal air-traffic control towers across the nation due to the sequester, but Congress passed legislation giving the Federal Aviation Administration the flexibility to shift funding to prevent furloughs of air-traffic controllers and keep the contract towers open.

"We appreciate Sen. Mikulski’s unwavering support of the airport and the support for the businesses that call the airport home," said Phil Ridenour, director of the Hagerstown Regional Airport. 

"We would also like to thank Sen. (Ben) Cardin and Congressman (John) Delaney for all their efforts to keep Western Maryland’s premier travel hub on the map. We look forward to continuing expansion of air travel options," he said.

The county-owned airport off Showalter Road north of Hagerstown is home to two commercial air-service providers, Allegiant Air and Sun Air, the latter offering commuter service to and from Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C.

Allegiant Air recently announced it would be adding twice-weekly flights to the Tampa Bay, Fla., area, starting in February. The airline currently flies from Hagerstown to Orlando.
Currently, 10 full-time county employees work at the airport, as well as 13 part-timers, according to county officials. 

On the private side, approximately 1,300 people work at businesses on or near the airport, contributing about $109 million to the local economy, officials said.

Source:  http://www.heraldmailmedia.com

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