Shutdown looms for Yakima Airport control tower

Shutdown looms for Yakima Airport control tower »Play Video
YAKIMA, Wash. -- All the wrangling in Washington, D.C. and the political stalemate over the so-called sequester could impact operations at the Yakima Airport.

Interim Airport Manager Rob Peterson tells KIMA it's his understanding the Yakima Airport is on the list to close the control tower.

However, Peterson says all of the commercial flights and business jets would still come and go as they do now.

Instead, air traffic controllers in Seattle would communicate with pilots and secure their air space.

A letter from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood sent to airports, airlines, pilots and other aviation concerns indicates the FAA plans to deal with $600 million in cuts for the rest of the year if Congress and President Obama don't reach a deal on automatic spending cuts slated to take effect March 1st.

The change that would specifically impact the Yakima Airport involves closing more than 100 air traffic control towers at airports with fewer than 150,000 flight operations or 10,000 commercial operations a year.

Peterson confirms Yakima falls into that category. The airport currently contracts with a private company to provide an air traffic controller. Right now, someone works in the tower from 6am - 10pm every day.

April is the earliest this change would take effect.