VIENNA - As discussions about across-the-board cuts continue in Washington and around the nation, air traffic control operators at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport have begun receiving notice of planned furloughs.
Airport director of aviation Dan Dickten said tower workers at the Vienna airport this week began receiving furlough letters notifying them that they are facing furloughs of one day per pay period on alternating days.
Sarah Dunn, a spokeswoman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, confirmed that most controllers have received their furlough notices. Those furloughs will take effect with the pay period that starts April 21, she said. Every controller will be furloughed one day each pay period for 11 pay periods in all through the end of September.
It still is not clear exactly how deep the cuts will go in the tower's operations. Last month, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced it expects to begin closing more than 100 towers in April. The list of possible towers to be closed includes both Federal Aviation Administration and federal contract tower facilities. Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, officially labeled "YNG," is an FAA-operated tower that appears on the target list for closure.
Dickten said he is not panicking yet, and he does not believe the local tower will be closed.
Dickten noted that of the 233 air towers targeted for potential closure, YNG is the only Ohio commercial service / joint-use military airport on the list. He said he would expect that noncommercial service airports would face tower closure before YNG.
''We don't believe our tower will be closed. We do believe the overnight shift will be lost," Dickten said by email correspondence this week.
FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said as of Thursday the agency was moving toward implementation of cutbacks beginning in April.
Still, Dickten said he remains hopeful that legislators in Washington will settle the ongoing budget debate before the effects begin to be felt locally.