Sequestration Cuts Will Not Affect Pasco Airport Tower – Walla Walla, Yakima & Moses Lake Maybe
The Federal Aviation Administration has announced 173 small-to-medium airports will have towers shut down starting or by April 7.
The federal government will no longer pay air traffic controllers to oversee these towers. Controllers monitor the radar and direct incoming and outgoing aircraft. According to the most updated list, Pasco is NOT on the list. Walla Walla, Yakima, and Moses Lake are.
CNN is reporting another 16 towers will close by the end of the fiscal budget period in September. Most of the controllers are state-contracted workers, not direct FAA employees, but the funding for them comes from the feds.
The FAA says it will consider removing airfields from the list if it can be proven the closure would have extremely negative effects on the economy or security.
Walla Walla Regional Airport is about three miles outside of town and Alaska Airlines offers four commuter flights daily to and from Seattle.
The Yakima Air Terminal (McAllister Field) offers three flights daily via Alaska Air to and from Seattle.
The Grant County Airport stopped offering commercial airline flights several years ago. It was Larsen Air Force Base until 1966 and then was used for some 40 years by Japan Airlines to train pilots. It is now used by Boeing and the U.S. Air Force as a testing facility. It's one of the largest airfields in the U.S. based on runway size. The airfield was also an alternate landing site for the NASA Space Shuttle program before it ended.
Paine Field near Tacoma says it will continue to operate even if there's no controller in the tower. Other fields impacted include Olympia and Renton.
The list is not final, but the FAA appears determined to close many of these towers.