City face March 13 deadline
The clock is ticking for Sugar Land officials to figure out how to keep the federal sequester cuts from closing down the city's airport control tower.
Spokesman Doug Adolph safety and commerce are their biggest concern for roughly 7,200 monthly flights.
“Without the tower, pilots would be basically on their own to land and take off their aircraft,” Adolph tells KTRH News. “There are a number of VFR airports that operate on visual flight rules, its not uncommon, but its not ideal. For a larger corporate airport like ours it is simply not an option.”
The Sugar Land Regional Airport employs 200 workers and serves more than 100 fortune 500 companies.
As for the funding, Adolph says the rules inexplicably changed under Obama.
“Its been our understanding for years the contract tower program is funded through the airport improvement program, that's a program supported by user fees not federal tax dollars, so it should never have been affected by sequester,” he says.
If Sugar Land can't convince the feds by Wednesday to keep the funds in place, the city may have to find $750,000 to operate the tower itself, but that's still no guarantee.
“Even if we could come up with that, and its certainly a possibility we're looking at, we have no idea whether the FAA would allow us to operate the tower,” says Adolph.