The Columbus Municipal Airport control tower is scheduled to close on April 21. The closure is one of more than a hundred closures set to take place across the country as the Federal Aviation Administration seeks to cuts its budget because of sequestration.
Columbus airport officials are now weighing options, and with them, the future of several employees. If the tower closes, three employees could lose their jobs.
Not long ago, Columbus Municipal Airport had a plan to update and reconstruct its tower, but those plans have been set aside. Airport Director Brian Payne says airports like his have not been given much time to examine their options, but he is happy to have a few more weeks.
“I think it just gives us more time to figure out exactly what we re trying to do and if we are going to try to take over the operation of the airport tower or not,” Payne says. “So its really kind of a positive for us, it gives us a little bit more time to look into other options.”
Payne and the airport’s board are evaluating three options for the tower’s future: contracting with an air traffic control company for continued use of the tower, making air traffic control personnel city employees or shutting down the tower completely.
Tower Manager Ben Euler says the company he works for, Midwest Air Traffic Control, is also scrambling. Euler says he does not understand why the FAA decided to, in his words, “eliminate” towers, especially after towers agreed to cost-cutting measures just a few years ago.
“We set out and accomplished what was set out in the contract tower program to be done in the first place and now they are eliminating because it is an easy elimination,” he says. “It’s a way they can just go, gone. We save that so therefore we don’t have to cut here, here, here. That’s what we are seeing from our side of it.”
The FAA is closing 149 control towers nationwide beginning April 7.