Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

February 26, 2013

Sequester won't close airport, officials say

Staff report
The Independent

KENOVA — If federal spending comes to a halt as part of a sequester, Huntington Tri-State Airport will remain open, according to a statement released by airport officials this week.

Last week, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood advised that air traffic control facilities would be greatly impacted if automatic federal spending cuts kick in on March 1, which is Friday.

Officials at the airport said that wouldn’t happen and offered the following statement:

“Indeed, Tri-State Airport was on the list for possible FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) tower overnight closures, and was also on the same list as 200 other airports facing complete tower closure.  Should either one of these circumstances occur, it would not close the airport.”

Airport Director Jerry Brienza said officials are doing what they can to keep everything moving.

“We are working with the FAA, TSA (Transportation Security Administration) and local tenants and users to determine the actual extent of the effects should sequestration become a reality,” he said. “The airport would remain open for business, with or without local air traffic control tower representation.”

Brienza said if the tower were to be closed, airspace would most likely be controlled by a larger FAA radar facility, such as Indianapolis.

“They are capable of handling our airspace,” he said. “At this time, it appears that none of our current air service or cargo service operators would be negatively impacted by such a reallocation of airspace control.”

However, he said, officials want to preserve Tri-State’s air traffic control tower and are “urging our local congressional delegation to resolve matters as quickly and justly as possible in an attempt to avert the impacts of sequestration.”