Costa Cheers Decision to Keep Castle Air Tower Open

Merced, CA - Rep. Jim Costa applauded the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision to continue air traffic control service at Merced’s Castle Airport and 148 other contract towers nationwide. The FAA had previously announced that they had decided to discontinue service at Castle Airfield due to budget sequestration. Costa supported legislation that allowed the FAA to reverse their decision and continue critical services at Castle Airport. 

“This is a big win for Castle Airport, Merced, and our entire Valley,” said Costa. “Congress finally saw how the misguided sequester was greatly jeopardizing the safety of our skies and had the good sense to give the FAA the tools they needed to continue their watch. Safety should never be compromised by politics.”

Mark Hendrickson, Director of Commerce, Aviation and Economic Development for Merced County, cheered the decision as well: “Merced County is elated with the news and the recognition by the FAA that contract towers play a critical role in the safety of our communities. By keeping the Castle Tower open, our aviation users and residents will be safer. Congressman Costa played an instrumental role in this success, and we applaud him for his tireless efforts to keep our tower in operation.”

The FAA credited the recently passed Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013 in their announcement as the sole reason they were able to continue service at towers such as Castle. When the U.S. House of Representatives approved the bill, Costa made clear in a letter that the flexibility given to the FAA under this bill must be used to end furloughs, to prevent the closure of 149 air traffic control towers including the tower at Merced’s Castle Airport, and to maintain the overnight air traffic control tower shift at airports across the country including Fresno Yosemite International Airport. The President signed the bill last week.

Specifically, the legislation eliminated the need for furloughs at the nation’s air traffic control towers. The bill also granted the FAA the ability to shift funds for other programs within the agency giving the Secretary the ability to maintain service at small contract towers such as Castle Airport. Costa urged the FAA to use this flexibility to continue critical services at airports in the Valley and nationwide.