No control tower means longer wait at the airport - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; KNOE.com |

No control tower means longer wait at the airport

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MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - If the federal government doesn't act this week, spending cuts could mean a loss of Monroe's air traffic controllers and a longer wait for you at virtually any airport.

Leslie Rodgers doesn't consider herself a frequent flyer, but even an hour at the airport a few times a year is too much.

"We're already having to be here so much earlier just because of everything else," says Rodgers, "so it's going to require us to be here way earlier."

She's not happy with adding an hour to her wait, but if Monroe loses its control tower, longer wait times is one side effect. The tower is among 200 on the chopping block, part of a $600 million budget cut by the Department of Transportation.

If the sequestration is not resolved this week, airport cuts will happen in April. It means there may be no one guiding planes in Monroe's tower, slowing up flights going in and out.

"If you don't have anybody helping you land, how does that work?," asks Rodgers.

Airport Director Ron Phillips is assuring safety.

"If there's a complete shut down, then air traffic will be handled out of Fort Worth Center. The FAA would not even have air traffic flying if it wasn't safe," says Phillips.

Rodgers understands the cuts may be necessary.

"I know we are trying to control debt and everything, but you're still taking someone's job away," says Rodgers.

Fifteen or more air traffic controllers could lose their jobs in the cuts. City leaders are asking lawmakers to reach a budget deal soon to avoid these eliminations.

Mayor Jamie Mayo's statement:

"Unfortunately, this could become another case where the American people see the reality of the division that currently exists in Washington, D.C. If these automatic spending cuts at the federal level (sequestration) do become a reality, our new Monroe Regional Airport could be forced to close its tower. That could mean an alteration to our commercial air travel where a tower in the DFW area would be over air traffic control. We are talking about a loss of jobs, and obstructing the ability for many to conduct business and personal air travel. Political maneuvering in D.C., at the expense of local municipalities and businesses is definitely not good. My administration is making contact with our federal delegation to express our concerns about this latest report. We are counting on all federal leaders to step up and put politics aside in order to get a budget deal done soon."

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