Sequestration Could Cost Jobs at Connecticut Airports

Sweeping federal budget cuts are expected to affect airports across the country, including Connecticut.

*A previous version of this story erroneously reported air traffic control towers at Bradley International Airport would be subject to staff cuts under possible federal austerity measures. This article has been corrected to exclude Bradley from the six Connecticut airports named by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Should federal budget sequestration become a reality on March 1, it's not likely Connecticut airports would emerge unscathed, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

According to the FAA, approximately $600 million are planned to be cut from the agency's current fiscal year budget, translating into a reduction in jobs nationwide.

The FAA has identified those jobs as overnight shifts and entire air traffic control facilities.

According to documents released by the agency, six Connecticut airports are on the list:

  • Sikorsky Memorial
  • Danbury Municipal
  • Groton-New London
  • Hartford-Brainard
  • Tweed-New Haven
  • Waterbury-Oxford

The six airports are and handful of the 100 air traffic control towers identified for possible closure. All 100 towers have fewer than 150,000 flight operations or 10,000 commercial operations per year, according to the FAA.

The direct impact of potential cuts are currently difficult to determine; however, "there could be a slow down in the air traffic control system." Bradley International Airport spokesman John Wallace said Tuesday by telephone. A slow down could translate into delays for passengers (for those airports effected), Wallace added.

Ultimately, the elimination of an air traffic control facility at Bradley would mean "less people doing jobs in control towers and more work to be spread around," Wallace said.

Bradley is not one of the airports identified by the FAA.

According to Jim Peters of the FAA, the agency is not currently releasing information beyond the announcement of locations subject to job cuts in the event of federal austerity measures.

FAA information released, however, is being accompanied by a letter from U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, which expressed the importance of maintaining safety nationwide.

"We are committed to working with all of you to manage the impact that these automatic cuts will have on the aviation system and on air travelers... Safety is our top priority, and in the course of implementing the operational changes... we may reduce the efficiency of the national airspace in order to maintain the highest safety standards," the letter reads.

LaHood and Huerta's letter states patrons of major airports, particularly New York, Chicago and San Francisco, could see delays of up to 90 minutes during peak hours due to the planned cuts. As a result, Huerta and LaHood said, airlines are expected to respond to the delays by changing schedules and canceling flights.

According to the letter, 47,000 FAA employees will be furloughed between one and two days each week through September. Additionally, the letter states the agency plans to cut back preventative maintenance nd equipment provisioning of National Airspace System equipment.

60 overnight shifts will be eliminated across the country, the letter states.

Furloughs and closures will take place in April, along with the finalization of details in the coming months, according to the FAA.


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