The looming sequestration could mean Yeager Airport is no longer a 24-hour airport.
“We are on the list for an overnight closure,” said Yeager Airport Manager Rick Atkinson.
If proposed budget cuts occur by the end of the week, the Federal Aviation Administration could be implementing overnight tower closures at airports in Charleston and in Morgantown.
Air-traffic control facilities at airports in Bridgeport, Wheeling, Huntington, Lewisburg and Williamstown could be closed completely.
Atkinson said this move would cause numerous issues at the airport, mainly dealing with medical transports that land at Yeager Airport at night.
“It should not affect the current commercial flight schedule,” said Atkinson. “But it does affect Medevac flights and LabCorp flights.”
Atkinson said LabCorp flies in a couple times each night with blood to be tested in Charleston.
Along the same lines, Atkinson asks where these medical transports are going to get fuel for long flights?
“If the airports closed, they can’t come in and get fuel,” said Atkinson. “They may have come from Buchannon with enough fuel to come here with a trauma patient, but then they may have to wait till six in the morning before they can get fuel to get back to their base.”
At this time not much information is known in regards to the tower changes, but it is expected the airport would be closed from midnight to 6 a.m.
Atkinson said more problems would arise if they were expected to make these changes immediately since Yeager Airport officials are only use to running a 24-hour airport.
“It’s not something that we can just do and say well okay we are going to start doing this today because no one knows how to do it,” said Atkinson. “Until we are confident that our people are properly trained on procedure, we cannot operate the airport without a tower.”
Atkinson expects they would need at least 30 to 45 days to properly train the airport staff on the new procedures.
Yeager Airport received a notice of the possible changes Tuesday.
Atkinson said they are in the information gathering stage right now because they have more questions than answers at this time regarding the changes. He said airport officials have a lot more work to do.
“We probably have identified 90 percent of the issues because we have a lot of issues identified,” said Atkinson. “But there are probably a few issues we haven’t thought about yet.”
The $85 billion sequester is scheduled to take effect Friday if Congress fails to act.