The Central Illinois Regional Airport has filed suit against the federal government over de-funding air traffic control operations for Bloomington Normal. Airport Director Carl Olson says the government didn't follow its own rules before making changes including an environmental review of the proposed changes.
Olson says at least six airports are filing suit. he says they want a federal judge in Washingto to delay the cuts until the Federal Aviation Administration completes mandatory reviews for all 149 towers that are slated for closure by May 5th. Olson says early numbers suggest it may take up to half a million dollars per year to fund the salaries of controllers, but they are still studying other costs.
Airport Authority Board members say the Bloomington Facility has more passenger traffic than 175 airports whose towers are being left open combined. They note one thing those airports have in common is that union rules at FAA operations may make it more difficult to close government operated facilities than contract operations like CIRA. The Airport Authority Board has also authorized staff to negotiate with the air traffic control firm to continue services. Olson says the estimated revenue required amounts to a 15 to 20% budget increase in the current fiscal year. He says financial reserves can handle thatfor a while, and staff will try to find other revenue streams if CIRA needs to keep footing the bill beyond the medium term. The airport will also negotiate with the FAA to amend the goverment lease of the tower.
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