Senate Deal on Air Traffic Controllers Not Likely to Keep Towers Open

COLUMBUS, Miss.–The airport tower in Columbus will stay open, but in June other Mississippi airport towers and the people employed in them will not be as lucky. They are still set to close, despite a deal Thursday in the U.S. Senate that shifts the budget to put an end to furloughs that took effect along with sequestration.

Those furloughs of air traffic controllers have caused delays. The new deal provides money to keep them employed at least until Sept. 30, but will likely not include enough for a reprieve for towers already set to close.

The deal had almost total bi-partisan support.

“This is something that has been difficult,” said Sen. Maj. Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada). “Hopefully we can get something that is broader in scope than this.”

Whether he was speaking of trying again to keep the towers open was unclear. What is clear is that if there is not some sort of reprieve, Mississippians will lose jobs in the coming months.

The towers at airports in Tupelo, Jackson (Hawkins Field), Bay St. Louis, Greenville and Olive Branch are set to shut down. Columbus was able to successfully lobby to stay open because of its military connections. Military planes can’t take off or land without a control tower.


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