An air traffic controllers union suggests scheduled across-the-board federal budget cuts that are looming would devastate aviation and could close DeKalb-Peachtree Airport’s control tower — but those at the airport say that’s not likely.
A National Air Traffic Controllers Association report this week said the cuts could lead to “likely closure of some airport towers” at smaller airports. “There has been speculation within the aviation community that the FAA may decide to close all facilities level 7 and below,” the report says. Those 194 facilities include the tower at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport’s tower, known as PDK.
PDK airport director Mike Van Wie said if cuts occur, “I do not believe that it would affect the air traffic control tower at PDK. We are the second-busiest airport in the state with a quarter of a billion dollars of economic impact annually. That’s a lot to shut down.”
NATCA spokeswoman Sarah Dunn said if control towers were to close, “it doesn’t necessarily mean the airports would close.”
Most federal agencies face cuts starting in January as a result of a budget-cutting deal lawmakers made last year. Leaders in Washington haven’t agreed on a way to avert them with tax and spending policy to bring down the deficit.
The NATCA report cited an August analysis of potential cuts by the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning Washington think tank. The report’s author wrote in an email Friday that updated calculations on FAA cuts mean “my numbers may be a little high but not much and maybe not at all.”