Cantwell Secures Win for Walla Walla, Other Washington Airports in FAA Bill

Provisions fully fund contract towers at Washington state airports, will help Walla Walla Regional Airport save nearly $100,000 every year

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation sponsored by U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate aviation subcommittee, to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The Cantwell legislation fully funds contract air traffic control towers, which will help Walla Walla Regional Airport pay for its air traffic control tower under contract with the FAA. The bill also reforms the FAA’s Contract Tower Cost Share Program, which will save Walla Walla Regional Airport roughly $100,000 per year.

“Regional airports are a critical economic driver for communities throughout Washington state,” Senator Cantwell said. “From Walla Walla to Bellingham, ensuring these communities have thriving airports helps grow small businesses and create new jobs.”

Under the current Contract Tower Cost Share Program, airports that contract out their air traffic control must pay a portion of the operating costs to run their towers

Cantwell’s provision will provide an exemption to all airports under the Cost Share Program that have at least 25,000 annual passenger boardings, including Walla Walla Regional Airport. Without the Cantwell provision, the airport would be forced to pay more than $90,000 in operating costs.

Contract towers provide a critical and cost-effective layer of safety at smaller airports. In addition to the reforms to the cost sharing program, the full funding provided in this bill will help keep contract towers operating at airports in Spokane (Felts Field), Yakima, Tacoma Narrows, Olympia, Bellingham, and Renton.

After Senate passage today, the FAA bill now heads to President Trump to be signed into law.