Secretary of Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Sends Letter to Congressional Delegation outlining opposition to Air Force Recommendation
England Airpark: May 22, 2012
Secretary Sheri LeBas of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development released a letter today opposing the Air Force recommendation to disband the 259th Air Traffic Control Squadron. Secretary LeBas position as head of the Louisiana statewide transportation system gives her firsthand knowledge of the importance of the 259th to safe air transportation and statewide disaster response capabilities.
In a letter, sample letter attached, to the Congressional Delegation Secretary LeBas stated:
“…the 259th contributes a critical service to air transportation in Louisiana by controlling over 38,000 annual aircraft operations safely in the central Louisiana region. …The expertise and management of such a wide variety of aircraft is critical to transportation safety at the Alexandria International Airport.”
As to Secretary LeBas letter: William Barron, Chairman, England Authority: “Secretary LeBas, the leader of our statewide transportation network, understands the importance of safe and efficient air transportation for commerce, national security and disaster relief. We appreciate the support of Secretary LeBas in our effort to save the 259th.
In March, the United States Air Force announced the proposed disbanding of the 259th Air Traffic Control Squadron. The announcement by the United States Air Force came without consultation or discussion with Senators Landrieu, Vitter or Congressman Alexander. Further, the announcement came without the input of the Louisiana National Guard.
The 259th Air Traffic Control Unit is based at England Airpark. The unit controls the movement of all aircraft in the airspace surrounding Alexandria International Airport (AEX). The unit mans the air traffic control tower 24/7 at AEX while also providing radar, navigation aide and communication support. The unit handles fixed wing aircraft from Cessna’s to C5/747; also full range of civilian and military helicopter activity. The unit is a member of the Louisiana National Guard. There are 110 persons in this unit. The unit has a direct impact of over $3 million annually to the local economy. The unit has deployed overseas on a number of occasions along with performing disaster relief duty in the United States. To date, the Squadron has safely deployed over 500,000 personnel, 170,000 tons of military cargo as well as supported numerous flag officers, foreign political and military visits in direct support of Ft. Polk.
A 259th web page has been established on the England Airpark website, www.englandairpark.org. Citizens are encouraged to visit the page and sign the electronic petition supporting the 259th Air Traffic Control Squadron. At the time of this release, over 1,200 signatures have been collected.
Further information will be forthcoming regarding Central Louisiana’s efforts to save the 259th Air Traffic Control Squadron. We ask the Central Louisiana media to widely distribute this information so that our citizens have a chance to support this effort.
The England Authority is a political subdivision of the State of Louisiana which owns and manages England Airpark, the former England Air Force Base. England Airpark includes Alexandria International Airport and multiple conversion projects, for which it has been nationally recognized as the premier model for reuse and development of closed military bases. Please see www.englandairpark.org