Control tower at Middle Georgia Regional Airport could close

pramati@macon.comMarch 6, 2013 

Macon officials are facing the possible closure of the air traffic control tower at Middle Georgia Regional Airport as part of the federal government’s sequestration.

Chris Floore, spokesman for Mayor Robert Reichert, said the city was informed in a letter from the Federal Aviation Administration that Middle Georgia Regional is among airports from across the nation that have fewer than 150,000 total operations and 10,000 commercial operations each year.

“We anticipate that we will cease to fund on-site air traffic control services at the vast majority of these facilities,” according to the FAA letter.

Macon has until March 13 to send a formal response and defend why the tower should remain open, Floore said. According to the letter, the only criterion the FAA will use to determine which towers are closed is whether “the national interest would be adversely affected by tower closure.”

The letter added that FAA officials can’t consider local community impact as part of its decision-making process.

“There’s (the airport’s) interaction with Robins Air Force Base,” Floore said. “There’s a lot of coordination between the two. ... We don’t want someone accidentally flying into Robins’ air space.”

Doug Faour, the city’s airport manager, said he is meeting with tenants at Middle Georgia Regional about impacts closing the tower might have.

“There’s definitely going to be an impact, whatever that may be,” he said.

Floore said officials have no idea of how long the tower may be closed, if it closes at all, nor the economic impact to the airport.

The city could look into keeping the tower open itself by replacing the federal funds with city dollars, but Floore said officials don’t yet know how much that might cost or whether it’s feasible.

But closing the tower certainly won’t help the airport.

“We’re trying to grow the airport,” Floore said.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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