Palmer airport tower could be targeted for closure
Unless the White House and Congress reach a budget deal before March 1, the air traffic control tower at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport will close as part of an effort to cut Federal Aviation Administration costs by $600 million, officials said on Friday.
If the Unity airport's tower is shuttered, flights would be handled by air-traffic controllers at Pittsburgh International Airport, FAA officials said.
Five Arnold Palmer controllers would lose their jobs as a result of the move, said Gabe Monzo, executive director of the Westmoreland County Airport Authority. They are employees of Midwest Air Traffic Control of Overland, Kan., a federal contractor.
Monzo said he's uncertain how the closing otherwise might affect operations.
“It's a situation where there's not a whole lot we can do. We'll deal with it accordingly,” Monzo said about the closing that would take effect April 1.
The airport has 100 flights a day, including scheduled service by Spirit Airlines, corporate flights and charter flights, Monzo said.
A spokeswoman for Spirit Airlines, which serves Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, Fla., from Arnold Palmer Regional, could not be reached for comment.
The FAA announcement comes as federal agencies are planning $85 billion in spending cuts over the next seven months in what is being called the sequester, part of $1.2 trillion in across-the-board reductions scheduled to occur over the next decade unless Congress and President Obama can strike a deal that would stop the reductions.
Closing the Unity tower would not hurt the charter flight business operated by L.J. Aviation Inc. at the airport, said Ed Kilkeary Sr., president and CEO.
“The tower is certainly a great asset, and it (closing) will be an inconvenience,” Kilkeary said.
He said his company is used to operating with an empty tower — it flies around the clock, but the tower is unmanned after 10 p.m., Kilkeary said.
Westmoreland Aviation, which operates a flight training school at the airport, does not expect any disruption in services if the tower closes, said President David Castaldo.
Flying into and out of Arnold Palmer Regional Airport without a control tower will be similar to flying into smaller airports in Rostraver or Indiana, Castaldo said.
Nationwide, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the sequester would force the FAA to close more than 100 control towers, eliminate overnight shifts at 60 others and furlough its 47,000 employees for at least one day per pay period through September.
The FAA said it also would eliminate overnight hours at Allegheny County Airport's tower in West Mifflin.
“Travelers should expect delays,” LaHood said. “Flights to major cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco could experience delays of up to 90 minutes during peak hours because we will have fewer controllers on staff.”
Joe Napsha and Tom Fontaine are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Joe Napsha can be reached at 724-836-5252 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Tom Fontaine can be reached at 412-320-7847or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Foes of South Huntingdon gas-fired plant fight approval
- Westmoreland Veterans’ Monument unveiled, rededicated in Greensburg
- Theft thwarted by employee at North Huntingdon Wal-Mart
- Man taken to hospital after New Alexandria house burns
- Acme man’s ephemeral sculptures appear to defy laws of physics
- Motorcyclist killed after striking pole in Penn Township
- A family’s flag flies again in Mt. Pleasant
- Westmoreland used car dealers indicted in fraud
- Hempfield train crash search called off; no evidence found
- Westmoreland County Blind Association building brimming with activity
- Youngwood veteran officially joins the Class of 1945