Pa. airports brace for automatic federal budget cuts

The Federal Aviation Administration is making plans for the automatic budget cuts that could close six air traffic control facilities at six Pennsylvania airports and eliminate overnight shifts at four others.

A letter from FAA administrator Michael Huerta and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says overnight shifts at the Harrisburg International Tower and facilities in Allentown, West Mifflin, and Wilkes-Barre could be eliminated, while air traffic control facilities could be closed at Capital City in New Cumberland, Lancaster, Williamsport, Latrobe, Northeast Philadelphia, and Reading Regional.

The letter says that the FAA would have to reduce its expenditures by approximately $600 million for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Nationwide, nearly 47,000 FAA employees in the air traffic organization would face one-day furloughs in each pay period until September 30, midnight shifts would be eliminated in more than 60 towers, and over 100 air traffic control towers would close if Congress and the White House cannot reach a deal before March 1.

Harrisburg International spokesman Scott Miller said eliminating the midnight shift for traffic controllers at HIA would not affect travel at the airport since there are no flights between midnight and 6 a.m.

Miller added that the HIA tower would take over monitoring for Capital City and Lancaster if those traffic control centers are closed.

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