Lewiston-Nez Perce County Airport Tower could shut down to political gridlock
By Nate Kuester
Lewiston, ID - Forced spending cuts by the federal government, set to go into effect in March and April could force the closure of the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport air control tower.News of the possible closure comes on the heels of a warning from U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who recently said that if Congress and the President's tug of war continues the mandated sequester will go into place and that could land a heavy blow to air travel in the nation. That's because the sequester would force the Federal Aviation Administration to trim $600 million from its budget. The Transportation Secretary said the FAA will have to cut back on staff and put thousands of workers on furlough. "There has to be some kind of furlough of air traffic control--air traffic controllers, and that then will also begin to curtail or eliminate the opportunity for them to guide planes in and out of airports," said LaHood.Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport manager Robin Turner said he is aware that the airport is on the list of possible air traffic control facility closures. He said that this is completely unprecedented and to shut down more than 290 airports is not acceptable. If sequestration ultimately closes the tower, Turner anticipates airline service would still continue despite the fact that the Lewiston tower would be un-manned. However, airlines would have to adjust some of their planning, especially in winter weather conditions. Passengers should also expect delays caused by the nationwide slowdowns in larger airports.
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