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Ventura County Opposes Airport Tower Closures

The Ventura County Department of Airports has sent a strongly worded letter to the Federal Aviation Administration trying to prevent the control towers at Camarillo and Oxnard airports from being closed due to federal budget cuts. Todd McNamee, director of the department, cited safety and economic reasons for why the towers should remain open. “Closing the towers will make the aviation industry less safe, inefficient, and therefore less inviting to new pilots and cripple the future of the industry creating a negative impact on the national interest,” stated McNamee in a letter dated March 12 that was sent Tuesday. Camarillo and Oxnard are among 23 airports identified by the FAA for possible closure in early April. A final list of tower to be shut down is expected to be released on March 18. The towers chosen were primarily those staffed by third party contractors, such as Oxnard. The Camarillo Airport tower, however, is staffed by FAA personnel. “Until I hear different I will assume they are still going to go after (Camarillo),” McNamee said in a phone interview. The closures are a result of the mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration that went into effect on March 1. The cuts will total $1.2 trillion over 10 years and are split between defense and discretionary spending. In the letter, McNamee explained that the airspace of the Los Angeles basin would lack coordination in the event that the towers at Camarillo, Oxnard and 10 other airports are closed. That lack of coordination would create inefficiencies because of the high volume of commercial traffic handled by Los Angeles International Airport, Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, Long Beach Airport, LA/Ontario International Airport, and John Wayne Airport. “All of these airports provide access to the national airspace system and contribute to interstate commerce,” the letter said. “Creating severe inefficiencies by closing the towers will have a negative impact on that economic benefit.” Additionally, student pilots fly into airports with control towers as part of their training. The students may have to fly into larger commercial airports if the smaller airports lack towers, the letter said.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
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