...Midway Funded Through Sept. 30
Meanwhile, an important emergency landing site in the Pacific Ocean that figures in ETOPS planning for airline flights and long-range business aircraft flights will remain open ... at least until Sept. 30. Midway Island's airport was to have closed on Jan. 30 because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which used to maintain it, ran out of money. The Department of Transportation came up with $3.2 million to keep it open until the end of the current fiscal year. FAA spokesman William Shumann said beyond that date the fate of the field is unknown. The runway at the former U.S. Naval station showed its value last Jan. 6 when a Continental Airlines Boeing 777, with 279 passengers aboard, was forced to land there with engine trouble. The diversion came about three weeks before the scheduled closure of Midway and prompted a hurried response from the Department of Transportation. On Jan. 27, Sen. Dan Inouye (D-Hawaii) announced the funding had been secured for the balance of the current fiscal year. "The emergency landing earlier this month, which ensured the safety of the nearly 300 people on board, dramatically underscores the importance of this runway," Inouye said in a news release. "Midway currently serves as the only emergency landing facility in this region of the Pacific."