RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Ohio - The scheduled furlough of aircraft control tower personnel at the Cuyahoga County Airport due to federal budget sequestration could have a harmful effect on jobs, tax collection and safety, said Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald.
Speaking at an afternoon news conference addressing local effects of the ongoing sequestration, FitzGerald was joined by local business leaders in expressing concern for the people of northeast Ohio.
"It has the potential to have a devastating effect on some of our operations and also the residents of Cuyahoga County," said FitzGerald. The Executive addressed the media along with business executives, Jim Weaver of Flight Options, LLC, Ron Rasmus of Great Lakes Towing and Shipyard and John Corlett of MetroHealth Systems.
"This couldn't happen at a worse time," FitzGerald said. "It's having a real effect -- on safety issues, economic issues, business issues, just as some of our businesses are getting back to work."
The control tower cuts at the county airport, in Richmond Heights, are scheduled to take effect April, 7.
According to Weaver, the Director of Operations at Flight Options, a private aviation company headquartered in Richmond Heights, the county airport tower controls the airspace for 5 miles around the facility. Without the county airport personnel, Weaver said approach control duties will be handled by the tower at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport -- then likely handed to individual pilots to coordinate by radio.
Weaver said some corporate jet operators do not do business at airports without air traffic controllers. He also restated safety concerns especially in regard to weather conditions.
"We're anticipating that it won't be as easy, that won't be nearly as efficient and there will probably be delays with traffic in and out of Cuyahoga County Airport," said Weaver.