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FAA Cuts Could Mean Layoffs At Essex County Airport

The air traffic controller at Essex County Airport in New Jersey could close. (Credit: Jim Smith/WCBS 880)

The air traffic controller at Essex County Airport in New Jersey could close. (Credit: Jim Smith/WCBS 880)

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FAIRFIELD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Significant budget cuts by the Federal Aviation Administration could mean closed air traffic towers and possible layoffs if those in Washington are unable to reach an agreement.

As WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported, if the FAA is forced to cut the air traffic towers at the Essex County Airport in Fairfield, N.J., businesses that rely on the operations could get hit hard.

Andrew Ferguson owns Air Bound Aviation, which provides ground services. He said cutting the air traffic towers could mean layoffs.

But he is hoping to keep the pink slips as a worst case scenario.

“I’m being pragmatic in the sense that I think the politicians will figure something out,” he said.

Or, he said, the FAA could concentrate its $600 million in cuts elsewhere.

“If there are airports with very little traffic and the tower shuts down, it’s not a big deal,” he said. “Here, it would become a safety issue.”

Meanwhile, federal officials also warned the arrivals and departures boards at major metropolitan area airports will be filled with “delayed” signs if the automatic budget cuts known as “sequester” go into effect next week, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.

“Flights to major cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco and others could experience delays of up to 90 minutes during peak hours,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Friday.

And that’s not all. In the Obama administration’s latest attempt to scare House Republicans into raising taxes to avoid the budget cuts, it is promising a trifecta of airport delays.

Not only will flights be delayed because the number of air traffic controllers will be slashed, but screening will take longer because Transportation Security Administration agents will be cut. In addition, there will be delays in getting through customs because agents will lose their jobs.

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