Two Central Texas Air Traffic Control Centers Could Be Closed

WACO (February 22, 2013)—Air traffic control centers at both Waco Regional Airport and Waco’s Texas State Technical College Airport could be closed if automatic budget cuts take effect next week, the U.S. Department of Transportation said Friday.

The two airports are included on a list of smaller airports around the country where air traffic control centers could be closed entirely as the Federal Aviation Administration prepares for a $600 million reduction in its budget for the remainder of the current fiscal year.

The list of airports at which towers could be closed also includes Easterwood Field in College Station and Georgetown Municipal Airport.

Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport is not on the list of about two-dozen Texas airports that could be closed or forced to operate under reduced hours if automatic federal spending cuts take effect next week, officials said Friday.

The largest airports, such as Dallas Fort-Worth International Airport and Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport, are not on FAA's list of potential closures or cutbacks, which mostly affect airports with fewer than 10,000 commercial flights a year.

In a letter released Friday, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said the cuts will require the FAA to furlough most of its nearly 47,000 employees for one day per pay period until the end of the fiscal year; to eliminate midnight shifts in more than 60 control towers across the country, and to close towers at airports with fewer than 10,000 commercial flights a year.

The closures and cutbacks could mean delays in flights to major cities of as much as 90 minutes during peak hours, the officials said.

“We are aware these service reductions will adversely affect commercial, corporate and general aviation operators,” the letter said.

“We also expect that as airlines estimate the potential impacts of these furloughs, they will change their schedules and cancel their flights.”

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