Air traffic report expected

VIENNA – With federal cuts that could limit air traffic control operations at airports like Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association this morning is scheduled to release an in-depth report detailing the effects these cuts could have on the industry and the economy.

Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport air traffic control cuts would be among proposed cuts at more than 200 airports nationwide. Other Ohio airports spelled out in the Federal Aviation Administration’s plan to cut costs by about $600 million this year include Cuyahoga County, Mansfield Tower, The Ohio State University, Bolton Field, Akron-Canton Tower, Dayton Tower and Toledo Tower.

The local airport is targeted as a facility where just overnight shifts could be eliminated or the entire air traffic control facilities could be cut.

The automatic, across-the-board cuts could begin in April as part of the March 1 federal budget sequestration. In preparation, FAA officials outlined plans to reduce expenditures with furloughs to most of the 47,000 employees for approximately one day per pay period, closing more than 100 air traffic control facilities, eliminating the overnight shift at more than 60 facilities and reducing preventive maintenance schedules for air traffic control equipment.

A report released in December by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association described aviation as a major economic driver that contributes $1.3 trillion in economic activity annually.

”Reduction in air traffic control services will ultimately result in fewer flights, creating a rippling effect that will hurt the airlines, pilots, flight attendants, private aviation, airport employees, passengers and all of the businesses that depend on a vibrant aviation sector,” the December report stated.

Sarah Dunn, spokeswoman for the Air Traffic Controllers Association, declined to comment on the situation Tuesday, noting that plans and discussions about the potential cuts are changing frequently.

Proposed cuts to the local air traffic control tower are not new.

Proposals discussed in 2010 had called for the relocation of seven Ohio air traffic control centers. Those included Youngstown, Akron-Canton, Cleveland, Mansfield, Toledo, Dayton and Columbus. That proposal would have moved the Dayton facility to Columbus, and Youngstown, Akron-Canton, Mansfield and Toledo facilities to Cleveland.

FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said Tuesday those plans had been put on hold indefinitely and are not connected to the latest proposed cuts.

Messages left seeking comment from local director of aviation Dan Dickten were not immediately returned Tuesday.