Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Wednesday

October 9, 2013

FAA will not rescue TC airport

TRAVERSE CITY— Cherry Capital Airport will have to wait out a political standoff before it can get its navigational equipment up to speed.

That means a possible repeat of mass flight cancellations like this past weekend if severe weather returns.

Airport Director Kevin Klein hoped to convince the Federal Aviation Administration to finish retooling the airport’s instrument navigation system. But he learned furloughed employees can’t be released to work, even temporarily.

“We tried to work with the FAA to see if they could come off furlough, if they could be privately contracted out, and the answer is no,” he said.

And FAA employees can’t volunteer to work on their own time; an employee could lose his or her job or be criminally charged, Klein said.

“It’s just disappointing,” Klein said. “When we look at the national (scene) as a whole, it’s bigger than Traverse City. The problem is they’re just unwilling to compromise.”

Klein referred to the deadlock in Washington, D.C. over the Affordable Care Act, signed into law in March 2010. Some Republican lawmakers are attempting to force negotiation on the law with a partial government shutdown.

U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, represents the Grand Traverse region in the U.S. House. He’s deeply frustrated by the gridlock in Washington, spokesman Kyle Bonini.

Benishek proposed four measures, including one that would delay the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate to purchase health insurance for a year, he said.

“Dr. Benishek thinks the health care law is bad medicine for northern Michigan and he’d like to see negotiations on both sides on how we can fix it,” Bonini said.

Bonini hedged on whether Benishek would vote for a “clean” CR — a continuing resolution or temporary measure that continues funding of government agencies and programs beginning Oct. 1.

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