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April 27. 2013 12:22AM

Nashua airport officials confident towers will remain open

NASHUA - Nashua airport officials say they are no longer worried the control towers will close June 15, despite the confusion surrounding the passing of the Reducing Flight Delays Act on Friday.

Congress passed without stipulation that 149 federally funded control towers, including the Nashua Municipal Airport tower, remain open.

Nashua Airport Authority Board of Commissioners Chair Donald Davidson said that while the stipulation that the towers remain open was dropped from the bill, Congress approved more than enough money to both stop furloughs for FAA employees and keep the towers open.

"Congress was told about $250 million was needed to do everything, and that is roughly how much was approved," Davidson said.

He said, "I am not concerned about the closure anymore, there is no way a government agency would take all that money and use it on something else than what they asked for, no way that is going to happen. I am comfortable that in the next week or so it will become clear to everyone that the workers are back to work and the towers won't close. They have the money they need."

To ensure the towers remain open, a staff member of U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, said the senator is currently helping to draft a letter to the FAA asking them to remove the uncertainty surrounding the control towers and guarantee they will remain open.

Rep. Ann Kuster, D-NH, was similarly displeased, saying, "While this temporary fix is welcome news for travelers and air traffic controllers across the country, long-term, bipartisan action is still needed to replace the sequester and lift the threat of future air traffic disruptions."

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, agreed, saying, ""With the safety, efficiency and integrity of our air travel system on the line, I am glad Congress was finally able to come together in a bipartisan way to avoid future furloughing of air traffic controllers. However, we can't stop here."

Davidson said that while the New Hampshire delegation has been steadfast and resolute in their attempts to keep the towers open, he believes many members of Congress were only paying the issue of the towers and worker furloughs lip service.

"That all stopped when their planes were the ones that were delayed last week, as soon as it started to impact them of course they decided to do something about it, what a surprise," Davidson said.

bklein@newstote.com

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