COLUMBUS, Miss. (WTVA) -- Less than 24 hours after Columbus Air Force Base officials held a press conference to discuss what sequestration could mean for the base comes another announcement, this time from the U.S. Secretary of Transportation.
The latest round of cuts targets the Federal Aviation Administration and could have far-reaching implications for CAFB.
Within those pages is a list of possible air traffic control tower closures. Included in that list: Golden Triangle Regional Airport in Columbus and Tupelo Regional Airport.
GTR executive director Mike Hainsey has an even bigger concern.
"The biggest impact will be with Columbus Air Force Base. The same day the sequestration is supposed to take effect, CAFB is closing its primary runway. It's one of the busiest Air Force bases in the world closing their main runway," Hainsey said. "It means they need to go somewhere else to do their training. GTR was going to be where they'd go to do [that]. That would have to change if our tower were to close."
And that's because CAFB is required to operate at airfields with functioning control towers for the majority of its operations.
All four control towers within the immediate vicinity of the Air Force base: Tupelo, Columbus, Meridian and Tuscaloosa, Ala., could be closed.
A spokesperson for Columbus Air Force Base released a statement, citing the decision could "greatly impair our daily training operations," especially during the six-month runway construction project.
That would have a trickle-down effect, Hainsey says, because of the business GTR gets from the Air Force base.
"The military, when they land, they buy fuel. For these businesses, it's their lifeline," Hainsey said. "To stop several dozen aircraft a day from buying a significant amount of fuel could definitely affect their bottom line."
Are these cuts too much, though?
In an exclusive interview with WTVA News, Rep. Alan Nunnelee, (R-Mississippi) said it's just a political stunt.
"I think the administration is going to do everything it can to make these cuts very painful. I don't know how it's going to play out," Nunnelee said. "The administration wants a tax increase. Every working American saw a tax increase after the first of January, and before the ink even dried on that deal, the administration called for even more tax increases. And yet they've not called for more spending cuts. The fact is, we've got to cut spending in our nation."
Whether or not those proposed FAA cuts survive between now and March -- when they're expected to take effect -- remains to be seen.
Many may be concerned about possible airport safety issues if they fly out of an airport without a manned control tower.
Hainsey said the flights will still be just as safe as they were before; they'll just have to handle fewer flights at a time.