UPDATED: Nashua airport considers joining lawsuit in try to keep tower open
NASHUA -- The Airport Authority of the Nashua Municipal Airport is considering taking legal action against the federal government to keep open the airport's control tower, which is scheduled for closure due to sequestration cuts.
Donald Davidson, chairman of the Board of the Commissioners of the Airport Authority, explained that the airport has an open invitation to join a lawsuit being looked at by another airport slated to lose its control tower, Felts Field in Spokane, Wash.
"We are pursuing if this is an appropriate way to go — really anything to prevent this lunacy from happening would be an appropriate way to go," Davidson said.
Todd Woodard, spokesman for Felts Field, said the airport sent a letter to airports nationwide.
"We issued a letter (to the FAA) asking them to stay their decision. Based upon their response to that, we will consider the lawsuit. If we file, we have told other airports they are welcome to join us," Woodard said.
Davidson said he would be spending all day Monday making calls and doing research to see if taking legal action has merit.
"There are lots of things to research and find out before you head off on a certain path, and the cost of joining the lawsuit must be taken into account," Davidson said.
He said he still can't get over the federal government giving the airport about $25 million for an airport expansion to bring in more private jets, and then closing the airport's control tower six months after the expansion is completed — driving all the new business away.
Davidson said repeated pleas to keep the tower open from both airport officials and all four members of New Hampshire's congressional delegation were met with silence. However, Davidson said he still has hope the closure can be averted.
"We're not giving up 'till the lights are turned out, and we won't give up then," he said.
Davidson called a farce a recent announcement by the FAA that 24 airports across the country were given a reprieve from having their control towers closed.
"Fifteen of the 24 have military aviation on them; no way the Department of Defense would have let them close," he said, adding that five others operate in high-volume airspace.
Closing them, he said, "would create huge safety issues."
Of the 150-plus airports scheduled to close nationwide, Davidson said the FAA reconsidered only four airports, two in Jacksonville, Fla.
He said he is meeting with U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte later this week in an effort to keep the Republican and the rest of the New Hampshire delegation apprised of the situation and to find out what they are doing to keep the airport open.
"Nothing is off the table; we will leave no stone unturned," Davidson concluded.