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Sequester Impact on Local Airports
Lost jobs, a loss of safety, and longer waits at the airport-- these are all possibilities if a decision isn't made by Friday to stop massive Federal spending cuts. Fox 25's Kisha Henry found out how it will affect airports in Oklahoma.
"Staffing is important and when we have a morning rush-hour, where we have 17 departures within an hour, we have to have a full staff," says Karen Carney, spokesperson for Will Rogers World Airport.
FAA officials say a $600-million cut would force them to make every air traffic controller in the country take one day off every two weeks. That's a ten-percent cut in the workforce.
"If we did see some reduction, we could see longer wait times," says Carney.
Another ramification of the looming cuts? Will Rogers World Airport is on a list of airports the FAA will pick from to eliminate overnight air traffic controller shifts. "That's a great safety concern," says Major John Bartley, City of Stillwater. FAA officials say pilots can still fly without air traffic assistance. Thousands of airports across the country do it every dya. But, the controllers add a measaure of safety. "It could greatly increase the danger," says Mayor Bartley.
Smaller airports, like Stillwater Regional, will see the biggest hit. It's one of six Oklahoma airports on a list of air traffic control facilities that could close entirely. "Our airport is an absolute key to our economy. Even if you don't utilize regional airports, they play a vital role," says Mayor Bartley. He says Stillwater's airport is a hub for out-of-state companies to do business with the Sooner State. If these cuts make it more difficult for companies to fly here, they may take their ball and go home. "Not just Stillwater, we're talking North-Central Oklahoma. We're talking Oklahoma as a whole. If the cost of doing business increases tremendously, it may not be profitable to do that. Now, we're talking real jobs, real people, not just people who work at the airport," says Mayor Bartley.
If a decision isn't made by Friday, the cuts would go into effect in April. Even though several Oklahoma airports are on the list of possible cuts, the FAA will decide which ones will be affected based on the amount of air traffic.
Posted: Wednesday, February 27 2013, 09:55 PM CST
IN OKLAHOMA NEWS
Obama declares major disaster in Oklahoma
May 21, 2013 03:56 GMT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama has declared a major disaster in Oklahoma as the state recovers from a massive tornado that ripped through the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, killing dozens and flattening entire neighborhoods.
Obama has ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts. Individuals and business owners affected by the disaster may apply for federal grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs.
The president promised federal assistance in a phone conversation earlier Monday with Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (FAL'-ihn). The Federal Emergency Management Agency has sent a special team to Oklahoma's emergency operations center to help out and dispatch resources.
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