Air Service Could Continue Without Control Tower

By  | 

Key Field is on a list of seven airports in the Magnolia state that could lose its control tower in the coming weeks or months.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says airports that have 150,000 flights or fewer each year are on the list. Meridian Airport Authority President Tom Williams says it really all boils down to a game between the Obama administration and Congress.

"All of this is just a move on the part of the administration to force Congress' hand by impacting the American public as much as possible," Williams says.

The FAA says it will cut $600 million from the rest of the 2013 budget year, which Williams says is simply an effort to get Congress to avoid the so-called sequestration. He says rumors that Key Tower might close are greatly exaggerated.

"We're also operated by the Air National Guard," Williams points out. "So, I think it's going to be pretty entertaining for the FAA to tell the Air National Guard to shut down. I'm not sure they can do that."

Williams says if the tower does end up closing, officials have until April 1st to work something out. He says he has already started making calls to figure out how the airport here would be impacted.

"Actually, the air traffic control tower closing does not affect our air service," Williams stresses. "For example, the Laurel-Hattiesburg airport has commercial air service and no control tower. They've never had a control tower."

Other Mississippi cities on the list are Greenville, Columbus, Tupelo, and Bay St. Louis.