Budget fight could turn out lights at Gary Airport tower
By Michelle L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent February 25, 2013 6:16PM
Control tower at the Gary Chicago International Airport Monday Feb. 25, 2013. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
Read about the sequestration’s effect on Midway and O’Hare air travelers at http://bit.ly/Zv0BZ2
Updated: February 25, 2013 10:22PM
Northwest Indiana’s only air traffic control tower would be shuttered if the federal sequester kicks in Friday.
Gary/Chicago International Airport Interim Director Steve Landry told the Airport Authority Board on Monday about the control tower’s sequester-induced fate. The Gary Airport’s tower would be one of 238 towers the Federal Aviation Administration would shut down across the country. All are at municipal or regional airports.
“There would be no staffing if those procedures go into effect, none at all,” Landry said.
The airport would still be able to operate, however. Landry doesn’t forsee Allegiant Air, the airport’s only commercial carrier, having to curtail any flights. He said not having the air traffic controllers on the premises wouldn’t affect airport safety.
“There is no degradation of safety, I want to make that clear,” Landry said. “Most (municipal or regional) airports don’t have towers, and they’re able to expedite planes. It’s not as efficient as with having a controller, but we will be operational.
“It’s more of an efficiency factor.”
Whether other planes continue to land at Gary would remain to be seen. Although safety wouldn’t be an issue, it would be up to the pilots whether they wanted to use the Gary Airport, Landry said.
Landry said Overland Park, Kan.-based Midwest Air Traffic Control, the company that provides the airport’s air-traffic controllers, would notify the controllers of their employment end date, if the sequester happens.
Landry said it is his understanding the tower would shut down April 1.