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Government Sequestration Could Cost Jobs at Connecticut Airports

Sweeping federal budget cuts are expected to affect airports across the country, including Connecticut.

*A previous version of this story erroneously reported air traffic control towers at Bradley International Airport would be subject to staff cuts under possible federal austerity measures. This article has been corrected to exclude Bradley from the six Connecticut airports named by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Should federal budget sequestration become a reality on March 1, it's unlikely that Connecticut airports would emerge unscathed, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

According to the FAA, approximately $600 million could be cut from the agency's current fiscal year budget, translating into a reduction in jobs nationwide.

The FAA has identified those jobs as overnight shifts and entire air traffic control facilities.

According to documents released by the agency, six Connecticut airports are on the list:

  • Sikorsky Memorial
  • Danbury Municipal
  • Groton-New London
  • Hartford-Brainard
  • Tweed-New Haven
  • Waterbury-Oxford

The six airports are part of a handful of the 100 air traffic control towers identified for possible closure nationwide. All 100 towers have fewer than 150,000 flight operations or 10,000 commercial operations per year, according to the FAA.

The impact of potential cuts is difficult to determine right now, however, "there could be a slow down in the air traffic control system," Bradley International Airport spokesman John Wallace said Tuesday by telephone. A slow down could translate into delays for passengers (for those airports affected), Wallace added.

Bradley is not one of the airports identified by the FAA for the reductions.

According to Jim Peters of the FAA, the agency is not releasing information beyond the initial announcement of locations subject to job cuts in the event of federal austerity measures.

A letter from U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, which accompanied the release, stated the importance of maintaining safety nationwide.

"We are committed to working with all of you to manage the impact that these automatic cuts will have on the aviation system and on air travelers... Safety is our top priority, and in the course of implementing the operational changes... we may reduce the efficiency of the national airspace in order to maintain the highest safety standards," the letter reads.

According to the letter, patrons of major airports, particularly New York, Chicago and San Francisco, could see delays of up to 90 minutes during peak hours due to the planned cuts. As a result, Huerta and LaHood said that airlines are expected to respond to the delays by changing schedules and canceling flights.

According to the letter, 47,000 FAA employees will be furloughed between one and two days each week through September. Additionally, the letter states the agency plans to cut back preventative maintenance and equipment provisioning of National Airspace System equipment.

Sixty overnight shifts will be eliminated across the country, according to the letter.

Furloughs and closures will take place in April, along with the finalization of details in the coming months, according to the FAA.

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