Most Viewed Stories
Federal funds cut for SCLA
Airport to look for alternative funding
- Number of FAA cuts to air traffic control facilities nationwide: 149
- Amount FAA is forced to trim from budget: $637 million
- Number of FAA Employees, including tower controllers: 47,000
- Minimum annual flights used as target for tower shutdowns: 150,000
- Date FAA will begin a four-week phased closure of federal contract towers: April 7
VICTORVILLE • Southern California Logistics Airport was named as one of 149 air traffic control facilities nationwide targeted for closure by the Federal Aviation Administration on Friday.
SCLA was placed on a list of contract tower airports to make way for $637 million in reductions. The cuts were brought on by the federal sequestration spending cuts, which went into effect March 1.
“We are effectively being unfunded by the FAA,” said Victorville Assistant City Manager Keith Metzler, who helps oversee the airport for the city.
Now that sequestration is in effect, SCLA will either have to absorb that cost, shut down the tower or modify the operating hours of the tower to a level the airport can afford. Officials hope to keep the airport open with alternative funding sources.
“We have been anticipating this, unfortunately,” Metzler said by phone Friday. “We have to make a decision quickly about how much we can afford to fund the airport, and how many hours to keep it open.”
Metzler said he’d been hopeful that SCLA would be left off the FAA’s cut list.
Barring another resolution, the FAA would terminate the airport’s contract with Serco Management Services — the airport’s contracted tower operator. According to Metzler, the value of that contract is estimated at $750,000.
SCLA is required to have an operational tower to facilitate both manned and unmanned aircraft operations — and is the only airport in the country that manages both.
A number of aviation services businesses have facilities at SCLA. And nearly 50,000 military troops rotated through the airport in 2012 traveling to and from the Army National Training Center at Fort Irwin, which does not have an airstrip that can accommodate airliners.
The Victorville City Council also serves as the SCLA Authority and oversees the airport.
While SCLA scrambles to find ways to keep operating, small airports around the country may close starting as early as next month.
David Grizzle, chief operating officer of the Federal Aviation Administration, said in an email sent to airport officials nationwide that the FAA will begin a four-week phased closure of 149 federal contract towers beginning on April 7.
Grizzle also said that some communities may elect to participate in the FAA’s non-federal tower program. But to do so, they would need to assume the cost of continued, on-site air traffic control services at their airport, according to Grizzle’s email.
The FAA is being forced to trim hundreds of millions of dollars for the rest of the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30.
The agency said it had no choice but to subject most of its 47,000 employees, including tower controllers, to periodic furloughs and to close air traffic facilities at small airports with lighter traffic.
The plan has raised concerns since a preliminary list of cuts was released a month ago. Those worries include the impact on safety and the potential financial effect on communities that rely on airports as key economic engines for attracting businesses and tourists.
All of the airports targeted for tower shutdowns have fewer than 150,000 total flight operations per year. Of those, fewer than 10,000 are commercial flights by passenger airlines.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Jim E. Winburn can be reached at JWinburn@VVDailyPress.com or at 760-955-5368.