Rep. Lipinski Announces Midway Tower to Remain Open Overnight
After pressuring the Federal Aviation Administration for months to drop plans to close the air traffic control tower at Midway Airport during the overnight hours, Rep. Dan Lipinski (IL-3), the state's senior member on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, announced today that the agency has backed away from the proposal and will keep the tower open at all hours for the remainder of the fiscal year. The FAA had inexplicably added Midway, one of the country's top 25 busiest airports, to a list of 72 airports nationwide that could have had their staffing levels slashed as a result of the sequester.
“I am happy that the FAA finally has come to its senses, but leaving the airport employees and Midway neighbors in limbo this long was unacceptable and no way to run a major metropolitan airport,” Lipinski said. “I believe closing the control tower at Midway for any length of time undoubtedly would have had a negative ripple effect on air travel throughout the country.”
The FAA this spring had proposed closing the Midway overnight as the agency sought to trim $637 million from its budget because of federal sequestration. Rep. Lipinski continually communicated to the FAA that Midway should not be on this list by emphasizing how important it is to keep the tower open at all hours.
Each year, Midway serves almost 20 million passengers and more than 250,000 aircraft operations, ranging from smaller general aviation airplanes to commercial airlines carrying up to 175 people. According to the city’s Department of Aviation, the proposed closure of the control tower would have resulted in 31 square miles of uncontrolled airspace each night in a densely populated area that includes downtown Chicago.
“I am hopeful that tabling the idea of an overnight tower closure at Midway through the end of this fiscal year gives Congress ample time to come together on a comprehensive budget solution and scrap the sequester,” Lipinski said. “All sides in Washington need to compromise and stop scaring the public with the specter of more sequester cuts.”
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