Wed. 11:41am: Nixing shift could save air tower

VIENNA – The overnight air traffic control shift at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport may be the carrot to dangle in front of the Federal Aviation Administration to keep the tower open.

Airport aviation director Dan Dickten said eliminating the midnight to 6 a.m. shift could be used to strike a deal that would avoid the closing the tower, one of more than 200 being targeted by the FAA in federal across-the-board spending cuts.

“We are in favor of doing without that shift if it will assist us in keeping the tower open,” Dickten said at today’s Western Reserve Port Authority meeting.

The airport handles, on average, about three airplanes a week on the overnight shift. If the shift is eliminated and a plane was scheduled to land overnight, traffic controllers would be held over.

Already, air traffic controllers at the tower have received furlough notices of one day per pay period on alternate days.

A decision by the FAA is expected March 22.