Columbus airport to see major changes

Published: Mar. 12, 2013 at 2:42 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 13, 2013 at 3:04 AM EDT
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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - It was two years ago when the firstAmerican Airlines flight took off from the Columbus airport… but in June, thoseflights will be no more.

"They've got aircraft in herethey are going to be getting rid of and it's a situation where while the loadswere decent we are not what is considered a high yield market for them," saidMark Oropeza, Airport Director.

It was just one of the hot topics thatcame up in our conversation with Oropeza, who says that they are still talkingwith American Airlines with hopes of inking a new deal when they complete amerger with U.S. Airways.

Starting this summer, the airportwill have only the Delta Airline connection flights to and fromAtlanta. While losing American Airlines could pose problems for theairport, losing the air traffic control tower could be an even bigger worry.

The Federal Aviation Administrationor FAA released a list of small service towers that could potentially close.Columbus was on that list but Oropeza told News Leader 9 that it is too earlyto call it quits.

"We are not a contact tower, weare a FAA staff tower, we are federal employees here. The FAA has to give theunion notice at least 12 months in advance before they can close the towerdown," Oropeza said.

The tower at the Columbus airport isalready run on partial time. Planes are often guided to land through radar outof Atlanta. Despite these recent setbacks, Oropeza remains optimistic.

"At some point and timecongress could get together and all the parties could agree and adopt a newbudget then there is money for the FAA then it's all a moot point," hesaid.

American Airlines is expected tomake its last flights out of the Columbus by June 11. Some air traffic controltowers across the nation are expected to be shut down starting the first ofApril.

As of right now the Columbus airportis not one of those but remains on a list for consideration.

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