Traffic and Transportation

Feb 22, 2013 3:17 PM by KPAX/KAJ Media Center

Possible federal cuts may hit Kalispell, Helena airports

WASHINGTON, DC - The Federal Aviation Administration is considering closing over 100 air traffic control facilities, including in Kalispell and Helena, if the federal budget sequestration happens on March 1.

The FAA says on their website that they are planning to cut spending by about $600 million for the rest of the fiscal year.

A Tweet sent out from U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Friday says that could mean closing air traffic control facilities with "fewer than 150,000 flight operations or 10,000 commercial operations per year, and that the government is "beginning discussions with our unions to likely close more than 100 air traffic control towers."

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says in a letter that the FAA is also considering furloughing the vast majority of their 47,000 employees for approximately one day per pay period; closing over 100 air traffic control facilities; eliminating the overnight shift at over 60 facilities; and reducing preventive maintenance and support for all air traffic control equipment.

The possible closing of air traffic control facilities does not necessarily mean that an airport will be completely closed, however operations will be affected. We are awaiting further clarification from federal officials on how such a move would affect Glacier International Airport.

However, Allen Kenitzer, the Communications & Media Relations Manager for the FAA Northwest Mountain & Alaska Regions told the Montana Television Network that, "the FAA does not close airports."

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