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GTRA looks for solutions in face of sequestration

Sequestration will not affect the day-to-day operations at Golden Triangle Regional Airport, said Executive Director Mike Hainsey.
“Last Friday the secretary of transportation said that 200-plus towers could be closed,” Hainsey said.  “ ‘Could be’ closed.  It would basically affect airports that see fewer than 150,000 arrivals and departures a year.  We have around 40,000, so it would affect us, just like it would affect about half the airports in the country.”
Losing tower operations would not affect the commercial operations at the airport, he said, but it will impact Columbus Air Force Base traffic.
“It will not affect our flights or screening,” he said.  “People forget that we didn’t have a tower at all until 2003.  Losing the tower will not affect our Delta flights or our corporate travel.  We would essentially be back to where we were 10 years ago.  The big issue is the base.  We cannot support CAFB operations without the tower, and later this week they are scheduled to move some of their operations out here because their central runway will be under renovation.”
Closure of towers at small airports would be a huge obstacle for the base, he said.
“Not only will they not be able to fly in here, but the other airports they use will be affected, too,” he said.  “Tuscaloosa, Tupelo, Meridian, all would be without a tower.”
The airport is looking at footing the bill to keep the tower running, he said.
“The tower is not actually staffed by the FAA,” he said.  “They contract that out to a company called RVA.  We are exploring maybe picking up the cost of that contract until things get back to normal.”
The contract runs to around $400,000 a year, he said.
“We’d be making a monthly payment to RVA until the FAA picks it back up,” he said.  “When you have commercial, corporate, private, military and helicopters coming in and out, you have to have a tower to keep things running smoothly.”

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