According to a USA Today report, the Transportation Department plans to close air-traffic control towers at 100 airports that have 150,000 flights or fewer each year, if automatic spending cuts go into effect as scheduled March 1. Five North Carolina airports are on the list for possible tower shut downs. Decisions on which ones will be closed will come out of meetings the FAA has with air-traffic controllers and airlines.
Five North Carolina airports, including 2 in eastern NC, are on the list of 200 airports from which the department says it will select 100 whose towers will be closed by April 1. These are the North Carolina airports on the list.
EWN Coastal Carolina Regional New Bern, N.C.
HKY Hickory Regional Hickory, N.C.
INT Smith Reynolds Winston Salem, N.C.
ISO Kinston Regional Jetport at Stallings Field Kinston, N.C.
JQF Concord Regional Concord, N.C.
The FAA would see $600 million slashed from its budget. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warned Friday of massive delays in flights.
"Flights to major cities like NY, Chicago, San Francisco and others could experience delays of up to 90 minutes," said LaHood.
So, what does this mean for you? If you have fewer people in air traffic control towers they can't keep up the same pace of takeoffs or landings. That means delays or fewer flights and fewer flights could mean higher ticket prices.
A representative for air traffic controllers, Spencer Dickerson with the U.S. Contract Tower Association, worries about the safety impact.
"It's hard to see how that's not going to impact safety in terms of the efficiency and safety of the system. So we're very concerned on how that's going to play out," said Dickerson Friday.
The transportation department insists these cuts will not impact safety, after the furloughs kick-in around April 1st.