Editor's Note: The following news release was issued Tuesday (Feb. 26) by the Mercer County administration.
Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes today clarified the potential impacts on Trenton-Mercer Airport (TTN) if the Federal Government does not meet the “Sequestration Deadline,” coming this Friday, March 1, 2013, and urged lawmakers in Washington to reach a compromise. He also urged calm.
Should sequestration take place, over the next seven months the Federal Budget will be cut by $85 billion, with an additional $1.2 trillion being utilized for deficit reductions over the next 10 years, including in the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Contract Tower Program, a program that funds control tower services at approximately 250 control towers, including TTN.
“Should sequestration occur and our contract tower close, even temporarily, there would be severe operational impacts. First and foremost, tower controllers give first priority to separating aircraft and issuing safety and weather alerts. There may be no one locally performing those functions if a tower closure were to occur, and that could have a very detrimental impact on the safety of aircraft operations at this facility,” said County Executive Hughes.
In the event of the closure of TTN’s tower due to sequestration, the airport would remain operational. The overlying FAA radar facility would then be responsible for the operations normally worked by the contract tower controllers. As such, workloads would increase dramatically for FAA facilities at the very same time these facilities will be facing the possibility of reduced staffing due to the sequestration. This would weaken the ability of the FAA to perform its most important function: keeping aircraft passengers safe, according to Hughes.
“Of course, should this chain of events occur there could be an impact to air carrier operations; however, such an occurrence would come over the course of weeks and months, not overnight,” said Hughes.
“I urge people to continue booking flights and making travel plans; panic is not in order. Travelers should stay abreast of events in Washington, check the Frontier website often in advance of your trip, and remember that sequestration is not inevitable. I remain cautiously optimistic that the partisan bickering will soon end and the best interests of the American people will come to the fore.”