Congressional vote may not save some local flight towers

Reported by: Wayne Hereford
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Updated: 4/26/2013 6:52 pm
TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA)-- The U.S. Congress has agreed to do away with air traffic controller furloughs blamed for numberous travel delays.

The furloughs are part of a government sequestration and were seen as a way to trim the budget.

The move also gives officials the option of saving control towers across the country. 

At Tupelo Regional Airport, paying customers were glad to hear that Congress had done away wtih air traffic controller mandatory time-off work or furloughs.
"Less delays mean I can get on my flight and go where I need to go. And, that's important to me when I'm flying. That's why I come to this airport versus say another airport," said David Olscehwski, a traveler from Utah.

Tupelo Airport officials also hope it will mean that the towers themselves will remain functioning. 

On June 15, the FAA will close 149 airport towers around the country as part of the sequestration. 

"Secretary Hood still has the option to do that and we don't know if he's going to keep them open or not. And, it's just through the fiscal year. So, the batlle is not over by any means," said Tupelo Airport Authority Director Josh Abramson.

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker was instrumental in helping the Tupelo Airport get its tower.

"The plans are still mid-summer for FAA to close Olive Branch, to close Tupelo. We're trying to make the case, both in legislation and also just in dealing with the agencies, that this is not an efficient way to save money," said Wicker.

Tupelo's Airport Director says the airport could function without the tower, but he says it would have an affect on the in-and-out times of flights.

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