New Punta Gorda control tower closing

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Posted: Friday, March 22, 2013 5:56 pm | Updated: 7:01 pm, Mon Apr 29, 2013.

Punta Gorda airport officials learning their new $4 million control tower will be shuttered by the FAA.

Airport Director Gary Quill says there are more than 70,000 take offs and landings at his airport every year. Including around 20 large commercial flights per week. "Allegiant Air flies to 11 cities. We are hopeful they are going to add more next fall."

For only the past year all have been in communication with the new tower. "The tower adds an obvious level of safety."

Quill and nearly 150 other airport directors just like him getting the final word Friday that funding to operate them has officially been cut. "This whole thing is a waste of time and a waste of money. Someone needs to get reasonable in Washington."

Six operators will soon be without a job here. The cuts are apart of the $637 million required by the FAA automatically under what is known as the budget sequestration. "We understand they could have done the same thing with just slowing down their hiring. It's very frustrating. It makes you think about what is the intent of this cut."

A clearly agitated quill says federal leaders are playing politics with safety. "It's a giant game of chicken. We are on the front line and the people making the decision are all the way in the back of the line."

According to the cut list Florida which relies so heavily on visitors is the hardest state hit with 14 towers being closed. "Candidly it is not the level of safety we would like to see. We want this back to normal. We want our federal government to act responsibly."

Airport officials say flights at the airport will continue after the tower is shut down. A four week phased closure will begin on April 7th.

Initially 189 towers were on the chopping block. After all of them appealed 40 were spared.

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