Texas Airport Furloughs Delay Construction, but Not Operations

A weeklong partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration has delayed airport construction projects in Houston and Abilene.

Because Congress cannot agree on a funding extension for the agency that oversees air travel in the U.S., on July 23, some 4,000 employees — 267 in Texas — who oversaw construction and grants at airports across the country were furloughed.

At Bush Intercontinental Airport, which laid off 75 construction workers in addition to those furloughed, work on a $25 million Terminal Radar Approach Control has been suspended.

"Airports should not be held hostage while the remaining obstacles to both short- and long-term re-authorization are resolved. The problem needs to be corrected immediately," said a Houston Airport System spokesman. "As an airport system, a city, a region and as a nation, we cannot afford to have the FAA shut down, even partially.”

Most of the employees furloughed were from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. But construction at that airport there has not stopped because they have already been funded through grants, said spokesman David Magaña. If the deadlock in Congress is long lasting, he said, that might change as it moves into its second phase. 

Don Green, director of aviation at the Abilene airport, said the completion of a control tower is on hold. He said the airport is also waiting for the resolution of the stalemate to begin two other construction projects. But he emphasized that day-to-day operations remained unaffected.

“Our operations continue safely, aircraft operations continue safely,” Green said. “It is a greater detriment to the FAA families, who are sitting at home with no pay.”

 

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