Groton-New London Airport's air traffic control tower is scheduled to close in April along with five other airport towers in Connecticut because of the federal budget impasse.
The Federal Secretary of Transportation sent letters on Feb. 22 to airports, trade associations and others saying the sequestration (partial government shutdown) will also lead to longer flight times because of fewer air traffic controllers.
"Flights to major cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco could experience delays of up to 90 minutes during peak hours because we will have fewer controllers on staff," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood wrote to the Department of Defense, Airlines for America, the National Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, among others.
Catherine L. Young, airport manager of Groton-New London Airport could not be reached Sunday.
Groton-New London Airport employed one full-time manger and five full-time employees, according to an October 2008 draft study. The airport is one of 23 open for public use in Connecticut, and was the state's first airport to open in 1929. The state owns and runs it, through the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
Groton used to be a commercial airport, but lost that classification in 2003.
In his letter, LaHood wrote the agency will have to cut $600 million because of the sequestration, and that may mean closing 100 air traffic control towers nationwide.
The smaller airports will lose their towers, those airports with fewer than 150,000 take-offs and landings a year. It will also lead to furloughs for 47,000 FAA employees of one day per pay period, but up to as many as two days per pay period between April and September.
"We also expect that as airlines estimate the potential impacts of these furloughs, they will change their schedules and cancel flights," LaHood wrote.
LaHood's letter includes a list of all the airports likely to lose their air traffic control towers in April. In Connecticut, those are Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Bridgeport, Danbury Municipal Airport, Groton-New London Airport in Groton, Hartford-Brainard in Hartford, Tweed New Haven in New Haven, and Waterbury-Oxford in Oxford.