Airport could be affected if sequester becomes reality

Posted at: 02/25/2013 9:45 PM
Updated at: 02/25/2013 9:59 PM
By: Bill Lambdin

COLONIE - The control tower at Albany International Airport may go unoccupied overnight if Congress and the President don't soon make a deal.

That's one potential effect of sequestration, scheduled to begin Friday.

If you're already sick and tired of this high stakes game of chicken you're not alone.

Congress and the president determined to play this down to Friday’s deadline, if not well beyond.

If you want to have a professional, safely run airport, you'd probably start with a professional, fully staffed control tower.

But in a letter released Monday, the Secretary of Transportation and the leader of the Federal Aviation Administration disclosed that Albany International was one of 60 airports expected to eliminate the midnight controller's shift if automatic spending cuts called sequestration are allowed to go into effect Friday.

A spokesman for Albany Airport said the limited number of flights in the post midnight hours could be controlled out of the Boston center or land with their own instruments without a local controller.

President Barack Obama told a meeting of governors on Monday he was ready to give on reforms to Medicare but the other side needed to make concessions as well.

“I know that sometimes folks in Congress think that compromise is a bad word, and they figure they'll pay a higher price at the polls for working with the other side than they will for standing pat or engaging in obstructionism, but as governors, some of you with legislatures controlled by the other party, you know that compromise is essential to getting things done,” said the President.

Republican leaders spoke with reporters late Monday afternoon.

“Yet it seems that the President is more interested in doing his campaign-style rallies rather than actually sitting down with the Democrat-controlled Senate and coming up with a plan,” says Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers from Washington State.

Without agreement, a large number of federal services will be reduced and many government employees will lose 20 percent of their pay. 

“Without an investment of public funds, without the creation of jobs, I believe that our economy is, at the best, going to stagnate and at the worst, degenerate,” says Bill Ritchie, President of the Albany Central Federation of Labor.

Although the federal sequestration cuts are scheduled to begin Friday many of them will be gradual.

Albany airport spokesman Doug Myers does not expect the control tower to go unstaffed overnight until at least April 1st.

But there are also reductions expected in TSA security personnel, which could show up sooner.