Two Mid-South Air Traffic Control Towers on the Chopping Block
(Memphis) – The air traffic control tower at the Olive Branch Airport will soon become an empty pillar reminding those who fly in and out of here of the pitfalls of partisan politics.
“I’ve always thought all along that’s not going to happen,” Olive Branch Mayor Sam R
About 10 years ago Mayor Rikard, with the help of the federal government, built that tower for $1.3 million. Now the government is closing it, and it’s causing safety concerns at this very busy regional airport.
“Second busiest airport in Mississippi the reason we’re so busy is because of general aviation and there’s a flight school out there that adds to the numbers also,” he said.
Olive Branch is one of two Mid-South airports on the chopping block.
The tower at the Millington airport is also facing closure.
The Federal Aviation Administration said on Friday it will close 149 air traffic control towers at small airports across the country beginning on April 7.
The cuts are result of sequestration – the $85 billion in spending cuts that went into effect on March 1 after Congress did not pass a budget.
“We’re very unhappy at the moment but there is a glimmer of hope,” Millington Airport director Rodney Hendrix said.
Hendrix said he pleaded with the government that it was in the national interest to keep Millington’s tower open.
“We get lots of military aircraft out there, expensive planes. So I thought that might be something that
would keep us in the system,” he said.
It’s also the weather alternate for FedEx. People at the Millington are clinging to hope that fed ex will pay to keep eyes in the sky.
“They have tons of contingency plans they are good at that and they are looking at various ways to keep things going. Right now and we are very hopeful something will work out,” he said.
FedEx said that it would not comment on business development matters, but stressed the importance of the Millington Airport.
“Millington is unique to FedEx because we use the airport as a weather alternate for the Memphis World Hub, and have added fuel efficiencies by using it as our alternate location,” FedEx Spokesperson Shea Leordeanu said.