As outgoing Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warned last week, automatic spending cuts are set to hit government agencies on March 1 – that’s this Friday – and unless lawmakers approve a compromise, as many as 100 small airports across the country could be shut down.
The shutdowns would begin in April.
Listen as travel expert Rick Seaney says it’s too early to worry about your airport making the “hit list”:
100 Smaller Airports Targeted
Most of these shutdowns wouldn’t inconvenience many travelers in the least. The government has supplied a list of 230-plus air traffic control facilities – mostly small airports – from which up to 100 could be selected for shutdown. The list is filled with smaller city facilities and general aviation airports without scheduled airline service.
However, many of these smaller airports are nevertheless busy like the Boca Raton, Fla., airport (BCT), while others are served by one or more U.S. airlines, including:
- Hilton Head, SC (HXD): Daily flights to/from Charlotte on US Airways Express
- Joplin, Mo. (JLN): Daily non-stops to/from Dallas on American Eagle
- Stockton, Calif. (SCK): Flights to Las Vegas and Honolulu provided by Allegiant
The DOT has a complete list of air traffic control facilities being considered for temporary closure on its website.
Not on the List? You May Still Face ‘Major Delays’
Even if your airport doesn’t shut down, that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t face any problems. LaHood warns travelers could still face “major delays.” As he put it in a letter to aviation industry leaders, “Flights to major cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco could experience delays of up to 90 minutes during peak hours because we will have few controllers on staff.” He added somewhat ominously, that he expects at least some airlines will change schedules and maybe even cancel flights.