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Augusta Regional Airport expected to escape federal budget cuts

Thursday, March 7, 2013 7:32 PM
Last updated Friday, March 8, 2013 1:53 AM
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Augusta Regional Airport says it is likely to escape federal budget cuts known as sequestration largely unscathed even as aviation in metro Atlanta faces harsh cutbacks.

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TSA officer Mitchell Davis checks a passenger's identification at Augusta Regional Airport.  JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
TSA officer Mitchell Davis checks a passenger's identification at Augusta Regional Airport.

Augusta Regional eluded Federal Aviation Administration lists of potential air traffic control facilities facing closure. Seven regional airports across Georgia are preparing for the possibility that their control towers could close, although the airports could continue operating without a tower.

Diane Johnston, Augusta Regional’s marketing director, said the airport is not expecting any changes related to the sequester but is preparing a contingency plan in the event furloughs are directed for federal aviation employees. Operating without a control tower is also part of early preparations, she said.

“We just want to make sure the airport stays safe and convenient for everyone who uses it,” Johnston said.

In metro Atlanta, about 2,000 FAA employees were notified this week that they will have to take as many as 11 unpaid days off between April 7 and Sept. 30, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Long security lines and flight delays are feared if sequestration hits the nation’s largest airports. Such problems aren’t likely in Augusta, Johnston said.

“We don’t have such heavy traffic here that things will get backed up or cause problems,” she said.

Daniel Field doesn’t employs federal workers or operate a staffed control tower, said its marketing director, Becky Shealy. Sequestration could affect $150,000 in federal funding the airport receives annually for improvements to the airfield.

“We may see either reductions or a slower process in terms of getting that money,” Shealy said. “But it’s really too early to tell.”


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