Federal Budget Cuts Threaten Rural Air Traffic Control Towers

Mar 5, 2013

Automatic Federal budget cuts that kicked in on Friday could have a significant effect on New Mexico’s small and rural airports.

The air traffic control towers at Santa Fe, Hobbs and Roswell airports are 3 of the more than 230 towers nationwide at risk of being shut down if federal budgets cuts stay in place.

Jim Montman is the airport manager at the Santa Fe municipal airport. He says, while a lack of control towers won’t shut the airport down, it could affect airfield safety, especially when dealing with dense air traffic.

"When you get into the denser traffic fields during the day, it becomes a little more difficult for pilots to sequence themselves. And here in Santa Fe we have a large mix of traffic, so it can be an extremely busy airfield. If the tower controllers aren’t there it just makes it that much more difficult to see and avoid it. "

Commercial airlines will still be able to fly into airports without control towers; however, it’s up to the airline to decide if they’ll continue service.