COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Federal budget cuts may cause the air traffic control tower at the Golden Triangle Regional Airport to close.
The Federal Aviation Administration will have to slash $600 million from its budget if an agreement isn’t reached. The cuts will come in the form of furloughs. The FAA also plans to shut down 60 air traffic control towers, like the one at Golden Triangle Regional Airport. Now, many fear that safety will be compromised.
“They’ve announced that they’re cutting the funding to our air traffic control tower, which helps keep air craft separate. We have several different types of air planes from Airforce jets to helicopters from American Eurocopter. It’s important to keep them separate, to keep them from hitting each other,” says Mike Hainsey, Executive Director of the Golden Triangle Regional Airport Authority.
Hainsey says despite budget cuts, they intend to keep the control tower fully operational.
“We’re trying to find ways to keep our tower open through primarily funding it ourselves,” says Hainsey.
Though the Golden Triangle Regional Airport operates in a low-volume flight environment, Hainsey says allowing the control tower to close would not only reduce the margin of safety, but put the Columbus Air Force Base at risk.
“We’re not going to do that because if the control towers close the Airforce will not be here. It is really important to us to keep the tower open so that they can continue to do their mission,” says Hainsey.
Hainsey says even if the tower closes, all other airport operations, including commercial flights, will remain the same and safe for passengers.
Lawmakers have until Friday at midnight to reach an agreement on the budget cuts.