Gabreski faces loss of air traffic control

New Yorkers who work for the National Guard

New Yorkers who work for the National Guard — including 220 technicians at the 106th Air National Guard base at Gabreski Airport in Westhampton — no longer face a federally mandated six day furlough between now and Sept. 30, the end of the federal fiscal year. Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant

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WASHINGTON -- Air traffic control facilities for Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach would be closed if Congress doesn't act to avoid automatic across-the-board spending cuts by next Friday, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said yesterday.

Gabreski is on a list LaHood released of about 240 small airports whose control towers would be shut if the Federal Aviation Administration has to reduce spending by $600 million under the automatic cuts.

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Gabreski manager Anthony Ceglio said closing the tower would make operations less safe, and could hurt local services such as fuel sales and catering if corporate jets go elsewhere.

Gabreski's control tower is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and staffed by two shifts of two or three air traffic controllers and a manager, Ceglio said.

Most of Gabreski's 75,000 landings and takeoffs each year are by corporate and private aircraft, but about a fifth are by the 106th Rescue Wing of the Air National Guard, he said.

Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton), whose district includes Gabreski, called on Republicans to compromise on a deal to avoid the cuts.

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"Closing the tower could result in delays and potentially unsafe conditions in the air, especially during inclement weather and high aircraft volume," Bishop said.

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