FAA cuts force furloughs, closures in Southern Tier

By Matt Porter

April 24, 2013 Updated Apr 24, 2013 at 11:37 PM EDT

Town of Maine, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Delays plagued national airport hubs this week as Federal Aviation Administration cuts took effect, forcing 47,000 workers to take a one-day furlough each pay period.

The furloughs will affect the 21 air-traffic controllers at the Greater Binghamton Regional Airport. TSA officers are not being cut in Binghamton.

The automatic cuts are a result of the failure of Congress to reach its own spending reduction plan earlier this year.

The FAA must cut $637 million from its budget as part of the across the board sequestration cuts.

Despite long delays at major airports, Binghamton travelers were finding flights leaving on time or even early.

"I was a bit concerned because I went all the way from Honolulu to here," Valerie Sasaki said, "But the flights arrived on time, no delays."

"We kind of chose our routes around it," Kenneth Stone said. "They told us we went through Philadelphia, we might be in trouble. So we went through Detroit instead."

During the first day of furloughs of TSA and air-traffic controllers more than 1,200 flights were delayed.

Binghamton Aviation Commissioner Carl Beardsley said major delays have been mostly isolated to the larger hubs around the country.

"The impact here so far has been fairly minimal from flights going from here to the hub airports," Beardsley said, "We are seeing some ground delays, but relatively speaking, we've seen very few."

Beardsley said passengers should be more alert in checking their flights before leaving.

"It's always best to check our website or check the airlines website to see if any of the flights you're using are being impacted," he said.

At the Ithaca Tompkins County Airport, their tower is slated to close on June 15 unless Congress acts.

Republican congressman Tom Reed of the 23rd District introduced bipartisan legislation Wednesday to stop the closures of control towers in Ithaca.

"On the short term, even if the tower is closed," Reed said, "The commercial airlines and commercial services have been committed to the Ithaca airport that's important for the community, but we want to make sure that this airport is in the best position to grow."

The Ithaca airport serves more than 20,000 students at Cornell each year.

Democratic senator Kirsten Gillibrand also proposed a bill eliminating a tax loophole for corporate jets.

Gillibrand said the move would save more than $2.7 billion over the next ten years. Money that could be used to keep towers operating like the one in Ithaca.

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