Sequester may shut Gary control tower, airport to remain open

2013-02-25T14:15:00Z 2013-02-26T22:45:04Z Sequester may shut Gary control tower, airport to remain openKeith Benman keith.benman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3326 nwitimes.com
February 25, 2013 2:15 pm  • 

The control tower at Gary/Chicago International Airport is set to close Friday, falling victim to federal sequester budget cuts, Airport Interim Director Steve Landry told the authority board Monday.

"The airport control tower would be shut down," Landry told the authority board at its regular meeting at the Airport Administration Building. "There would be no staffing if those procedures (sequester) go into effect. None at all. That's correct."

The airport will remain open to airplanes, but they will have to follow Federal Aviation Administration guidelines for landing without a control tower, something that would make landing planes less efficient, Landry said.

"It will not affect the safety of the airport," Landry said. "It is more of an efficiency factor."

Currently, the Gary airport is the only one in Northwest Indiana with a control tower.

The Federal Aviation Administration is considering closing more than 100 airport control towers across the United States if the federal sequester cuts go into effect, according to information released by the FAA. Midway International in Chicago could have overnight shifts eliminated.

Separately, the federal government has been warning of long security lines at large airports such as Midway and O'Hare International Airport.

The FAA is seeking to reduce expenditures by approximately $600 million for the remainder of its fiscal year to comply with the sequestration.

That sequestration takes effect Friday if negotiations in Congress  cannot come to an agreement with President Barack Obama on avoiding the budget cuts.

Landry said he could not predict if closing the tower at the Gary airport will keep planes away, which would effect the airport financially because it collects landing fees whenever an aircraft comes in.

He said it's all up to aircraft pilots if they want to keep coming to the airport.

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