Budget cuts to affect Central Illinois airports

By WEEK Producer

February 22, 2013 Updated Feb 22, 2013 at 11:24 PM CDT

If Congress fails to reach an agreement regarding automatic budget cuts set to start on March 1, it could have serious impacts on air travel.

On Friday, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood warned that cutbacks within the FAA could result in fewer air traffic controllers and the closures of small airport towers around the country.

LaHood said if Congress does not reach an agreement, there will be harmful consequences that will cost jobs and hurt the economy. The most imminent problem for the public will be the cancellation of flights and significant delays at airports across the country.

"Once airlines see the potential impact of these furloughs, we expect that they will change their schedules and cancel flights. So, we are beginning today discussions with our unions to likely close more than 100 air traffic control towers at airports with fewer than 150,000 flight operations per year," said LaHood.

Here locally, the Peoria General Wayne A. Downing International Airport could have its overnight tower shift eliminated. In Bloomington, the Central Illinois Regional Airport could have its air traffic control facility closed.

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