Illinois Senator Dick Durbin met with Michael Huerta, the head of the Federal Aviation Administration this afternoon to discuss it's proposed closing of 9 airport control towers including the one at the Central Illinois Regional Airport. WGLT Washington Correspondent Hanna Gutmann reports officials at the Bloomington facility had planned to appeal the closure, but it may not make a difference.
The FAA drew up its list based on passenger load and commercial airline traffic. Using those criteria, the Bloomington-Normal Airport doesn't qualify for federal control tower staffing. Airport Director Carl Olson says, despite this, the airport will remain open and operate safely. He says, "It's a wonderful facility. It's had three perfect inspections the last three years. Airlines can continue to operate at airports that do not have air traffic control services available. It's actually very common."
Senator Durbin, who flies in and out of Springfield, which is also slated for a tower closing, says there will be hardships. He says, "The standards that need to be used now, particularly when we have rainstorms or low visibility, it's going to slow down operations pretty dramatically. It could mean that flights could arrive later than you'd expected and take off later than you'd expected."
Durbin says he'll attempt to amend this year's budget to put off the closures until the end of the year. But he cautions the sequester is a ten year deal.
(pictured, IL Senator Dick Durbin discusses the looming closure of the Central Illinois Regional Airport control tower with FAA administrator Michael Huerta. Photo credit: Senator Dick Durbin)
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