Director: Tower cuts won’t stop flights in Vienna

VIENNA – Cuts proposed for the Youngstown-Warren Regional airport tower won’t ground existing flights, but they could hamper the airport’s attempts to land new commercial flights, director of aviation Dan Dickten said Thursday.

Proposed cuts by the Federal Aviation Administration at more than 200 airports nationwide could go on the books today, but would not take effect until April because the FAA is required by law to give its employees advance notice. That will delay most of the impact of the spending cuts on air travel for at least a month. The cuts are proposed as a part of the federal budget sequestration.

The local airport is targeted for possible elimination of just the overnight shift or the entire tower.

Dickten, speaking Thursday from an Allegiant Air conference in Arizona, said he expects the midnight shift to be cut but is not expecting all shifts at the tower to be eliminated.

Even if they are all cut, Dickten said operations would continue by using air traffic controllers from Cleveland.

”It pulls that extra set of safety out there,” Dickten said.

He added, though, that such cuts could be a setback to ongoing attempts to lure new daily commercial service to the airport.

”If we lost the full-time air traffic control service, that would make our jobs harder in trying to pull daily service in here,” Dickten said.

He noted the airport has been working particularly hard to draw flights for oil and gas company travelers from areas like Houston and Oklahoma.