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April 03. 2013 8:41PM

Rep. Kuster warns Nashua tower's closing could hurt economy

NASHUA - Second District Congresswoman Ann Kuster, D-NH, joined Nashua Municipal Airport officials and Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau at a joint press conference Wednesday to discuss the imminent closure of the airport's control tower due to federal sequestration cuts.

Joined by Nashua Airport Manager Royce Rankin and several business owners based out of the airport, Kuster and Lozeau both voiced concerns that the tower's closure could hurt airport safety and the local economy.

Lozeau said that everyone would work together, from local officials to members of Congress, to figure out ways to keep the tower open past Sunday.

Kuster said that work has to be done to make sure everyone understands how valuable a controlled airport is to Nashua and the region.

"We identified the problem, now we have to take course of action to keep tower open," Rankin said.

Many of the business owners in attendance at the press conference voiced concern at landing multi-million dollar aircraft at an uncontrolled airport. Rankin added that there are only a few days left to figure out how to keep the tower open, or the seven air traffic controllers who work there will lose their jobs.

Airport Authority Board of Commissioner Chair Donald Davidson was not present at the press conference, but said afterward that the Lozeau and the entire New Hampshire delegation to Washington D.C. have been helpful in trying to keep the tower open.

However, Davidson has said in the past that keeping the tower open using city funding isn't realistic.

Along with exploring the possibility of suing the Federal Aviation Administration to keep the airport open, Rankin said airport officials are exploring ways to fund the control tower without federal money.

Rankin also discussed a conference call held by FAA officials earlier this week for airports that will lose control towers. While some airport officials had said they hope the conference call would include news of a reprieve, Rankin said the call did not include any good news, only information that airport officials already knew.

With over 300 participants from airports across the country taking part in the call, Rankin said FAA officials did not answer any questions directed to them by Nashua Airport officials before the call ended.

bklein@newstote.com


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