Sequester cuts could affect air travel in our area

CREATED Feb. 25, 2013

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MILWAUKEE - Airports like Mitchell International could see overnight shifts eliminated. Other airports could see their air traffic control towers taken out of commission.

The cuts are sweeping and so are the implications -- from schools, to defense, to transportation. The FAA is prepping for big delays in major airports across the country as airports in Wisconsin brace for change as part of the "Sequester" looming in the nation's capitol.

"Losing a control tower would be a safety concern," said Dan Gerard.

Gerard is the chief flight instructor with Gran-Aire at Timmerman airport -- one of eight across the state that could lose their air traffic control towers as part of the sequester.

"They're up there continuously talking to us on the radio, watching out for us, giving us advisories to where other airplanes are," he said.

Meanwhile, Mitchell International could see overnight shifts eliminated. The airport had no comment. When we called the FAA to get more specifics, they didn't have any, telling us they haven't worked that out yet. So that 5:00 a.m. flight to Chicago or the 5:20 to Philly? There’s no word on whether they'll be there when it's all said and done. And as the clock ticks, all we can do is wait.

"It's been that way the past few doomsday predictions we've had with financial situations," said Dan Gerard. "It seems to have worked itself out in the day before, so we're keeping our fingers crossed the same thing is going to happen here too."

Gerard said they can operate Timmerman without a tower, so the airport wouldn't have to shut down completely. The FAA says safety remains its top priority and it will work to make sure that isn't affected if the cuts are put in place.