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Airport stakeholders to talk tower service

Mon, 25 Mar 2013 18:16:54 CDT
By: Charlie Schlenker / IPR

Details of how Bloomington-Normal leaders will retain air traffic control operations at the Central Illinois Regional have yet to be finalized. But, Airport Director Carl Olson is criticizing the federal cuts that lead to the local scramble as poorly conceived. He says they threaten aviation safety nationwide without addressing wasteful spending...

The airport in Bloomington is a contract tower , and not a federally run operation. Olson says contract operations are the most cost effective available, and yet, he says non-sensical cuts have taken place. An airport stakeholders group has scheduled a meeting early tomorrow (this) morning with an update on the tower situation. City leaders have said if they are asked to contribute toward tower operations, they expect elected officials in the metro area would give that request very serious consideration. Bloomington Mayor Steve Stockton says he has yet to see a detailed proposal and discussions have been preliminary. State Farm Insurance last week said it is ready to help maintain service. The stakeholders group that includes the Chamber of Commerce had accumulated a nest egg of cash to guarantee revenue for Frontier Airlines to begin new service to Florida. Frontier has not had to draw on that fund.

The director of the Decatur Airport says the loss of their air traffic control tower staff will affect airport operations, but not flight safety. Airport Director Joe Attwood says they’ll continue to operate, by having pilots coordinate their takeoffs and landings among themselves, as is done at many small airports. He says the only other option would be to pay the air traffic control workers themselves.

Attwood says Decatur Airport handles about 30 flights a day. The Airport in Bloomington handles 26 daily arrivals and departures. Carl Olson of the Central Illinois Regional Airport said last week he did not have figures available on the cost of preserving the tower service for Bloomington.

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