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Cuts could severely impact Grand Island airport
Sequestration could have a big impact here in central Nebraska. All week long we're taking a look at just how the cuts will affect us.
Tuesday we look at air travel and the hundreds of thousands of dollars that would be lost for monitoring airport traffic.
The Central Nebraska Regional Airport is looking at a reduction of 80-percent in funding for their air traffic control tower.
If that funding were to go away, so would the tower. That would take effect April 1st. The airport would still operate as normal, but monitoring that air traffic would occur thousands of miles away.
"We have a contract control tower through the FAA," said CNRA Executive Director Mike Olson.
But soon, that control tower could sit empty.
"It'll impact us because there's 4 or 5 jobs created up in the tower by having the tower here," Olson said.
The air traffic control tower at the Central Nebraska Regional Airport costs about $360,000 a year to run.
The federal government pays $288,000 of those costs, while the local airport authority covers the remaining $72,000.
"That's a lot of money and we don't have that kind of money in our budget for that first of all," Olson said.
If sequestration were to happen on Friday...
"We're on the FAA's hit list," said Olson.
...the tower would be shut down.
"Safety is always a big concern; it could potential affect the air service that we have," said Olson.
Control of the comings and goings at the airport will be monitored from a tower in Minneapolis, but that too could be affected.
"Those centers are going to lose controllers as well so you're asking the controllers to do more with less personnel," said Olson.
Currently, American Eagle and Allegiant have flights out of the airport. As for their future in Central Nebraska...
"It's hard to say, I'm not sure the airlines are too thrilled about flying into an airport without a control tower, they do it," said Olson.
Mike Olson will be speaking with both airlines about the tower closure in the next few days.
As to how sequestration will affect the expansion of the terminal, Olson says it's still a go and they are moving forward with the expansion.
Wednesday night, we'll look at possible cuts to the Meals on Wheels program and how it could affect seniors.
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