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Sequester Still Threatens Idaho Airport Towers

Robin Wagner
Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho’s regional airport towers have been given a short reprieve from federal budget cuts known as the sequester. That includes Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Lewiston and Hailey. The towers are now set to close on June 15th.

Closing the towers means planes could still fly, but pilots would take on the responsibilities the towers now hold.

Rick Baird manages the Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey.  He says the extension is good news for now, but his airport is still a target for deep federal cuts.

“This is a huge issue, not only for the Wood River Valley, it’s a huge issue for the state of Idaho," says Baird.

Baird says the June 15th date will come at the beginning of their busy summer season. He says losing the tower would mean five employees would lose their jobs, and flights would be lost.

“Without the tower, we think that we’re going to lose the capability to handle probably 75 percent of that traffic," Baird says. "So we’ll be down to maybe four or five arrivals or four or five departures.”

The airport is preparing for a legal battle with the feds as the June fifteenth date gets closer. The board of directors filed a petition for review with the U.S. Court of Appeals, and Baird says they are planning to file an emergency stay to stop the tower’s closure.

Copyright 2013 Boise State Public Radio

Frankie Barnhill was the Senior Producer of Idaho Matters, Boise State Public Radio's daily show and podcast.

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