Automatic spending cuts could mean changes at Abilene airport

ABILENE, Texas - There are only about 24 hours left for Congress to act before automatic spending cuts will take effect. One agency that could be hit especially hard is the Federal Aviation Administration.

If the cuts become a reality, a majority of the FAA's air traffic controllers will lose between one and two days of work each pay period.

"We're hearing that the furloughs won't start until sometime in April, probably after April first, after the 30 day notice to employees, which is a federal requirement," said Abilene Regional Airport Director Don Green. 

That could mean some changes at the Abilene airport.

"There are procedures in place that FAA has in place for airports where the control tower is closed for a certain number of hours a day and it becomes basically an uncontrolled airfield," Green said.

That does not mean the airport would close, but it does mean the airport control tower and controllers would cut back their hours of operation. 

"The pilots would have to step up and be a little bit more careful making radio calls, making sure they're spotting the other aircraft in the area and letting their intentions be known over the radio," Green said. 

Green said he hopes lawmakers make a deal so that controller's hours aren't cut.

"We're talking about people who work hard every day out there and they're going to have to adjust their budgets, their household budgets, it's going to impact them quite a bit. So yeah, we hope that it'll work out for their sake," said Green.

Green said airport staff will start training next week on how to operate on runways and taxiways without the control tower. The training will take place whether or not congress can reach a deal before tomorrow's deadline comes to an end.

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