Columbia Regional Airport manager Don Elliott received a letter notifying him that the airport's control tower is one of 149 nationwide scheduled to close sometime between April 7 and May 7.
The Jefferson City control tower is one of an additional 16 federal contract towers under the "cost share" program. These will remain open because Congressional statute sets aside funds every fiscal year for these towers. These cost-share program funds are subject to sequestration, but the required 5-percent cut will not result in tower closures.
"Jefferson City's airport is what's known as a cost share airport," Britt Smith, operations division director, said. "We, the community, put a portion of our funds into running that airport, as well as the federal government. In other towers, it's 100 percent share on the federal side. The way the contracts have been worked out with the FAA, our towers were funded in a different pool. That pool will continue to see funding, and it's unfortunate that some of the other towers will not."
â??Weâ??re grateful for this action which will fund the control tower until the end of September 2013, and we will continue to work to see funding is continued into the next fiscal year,â?? City Administrator Nathan Nickolaus said.
The 149 federal contract tower closures are part of the FAA's sequestration implementation plan.
Columbia's public information specialist, Steven Sapp, told us there will not be any immediate impact from the control tower closure. He confirmed that commercial flights and general aviation traffic will continue as normal, with guidance from Mizzou Approach Control in Springfield, Mo. He added that American Airlines has indicated it will continue operations, since they already fly into and out of airports not served by a control tower.
Sapp also said the City of Columbia will work with airshow staff to determine what, if any, impact the Columbia Regional Airport control tower closure will have on the airshow.The 24 towers selected to remain open were chosen because officials deemed that their closures "would have a negative impact on the national interest."The national interest considerations included: significant threats to national security as determined by the FAA in consultation with the Department of Defense or the Department of Homeland Security; significant, adverse economic impact that is beyond the impact on a local community; significant impact on multi-state transportation, communication or banking/financial networks; and the extent to which an airport currently served by a contract tower is a critical diversionary airport to a large hub.