Australian Government Company Takes On U.S. Towers

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The contract towers that serve four Hawaiian airports, as well as those on the U.S. Pacific islands of Guam and Saipan, are back in government hands -- the Australian government's. Airservices Australia, the government-owned corporation that runs air traffic control down under, recently won a $20 million (Australian) contract to take over the towers at Molokai, Lihue, Kona, and Kalealoa as well as on the other two islands. The announcement came as the U.S. and Australia get ready to enter a new free-trade agreement. The contract doesn't seem to be causing much controversy among some of the generally turf-conscious players, but it wasn't their turf, anyway. National Air Traffic Controllers Association spokesman Doug Church told AVweb the contract was previously held by the British firm Serco, one of three private tower contractors currently looking after the more than 200 non-FAA towers in the U.S. The new contract takes effect on Jan. 1, the day the free-trade agreement comes into effect. Airservices Australia was recently granted legislative changes allowing it to compete commercially both domestically and abroad.