Report: Over 100 Airports Could Close Due to Federal Budget Cuts

Palm Springs Airport

Could airports such as Palm Springs International (pictured) close due to Federal budget cuts if the government doesn't get the tax increases it wants?

Washington, D.C. — According to a new analysis released by the Center for American Progress, as many as 106 U.S. airports could lose air traffic control service—and effectively be shut down—under automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect January 2, 2013.

The column’s author, Scott Lilly, a CAP Senior Fellow and former director of the House Appropriations Committee, used the Federal Aviation Administration as an example to illustrate in vivid detail the effects of automatic spending cuts known as “sequestration.” Unless Washington lawmakers find an alternative approach to cutting the deficit, many federal agencies will in January face $1.2 trillion in across-the-board spending cuts over 10 years.

“The FAA is only one small example of the kind of mindless economic chaos that these across-the-board cuts are likely to create,” said Scott Lilly. “National parks will be closed. Key regulatory functions will be curtailed. Law enforcement will be crippled. Border security will be sacrificed. And our capacity to deal with problems around the world like Syria, North Korea, or the new government in Egypt will be compromised.”

The Federal Aviation Administration will have to slash its budget in 2013 by about $1.35 billion, according to Lilly’s calculations. And under the terms of the 2011 law dictating the cuts, FAA officials will be unable to shield air traffic control (or any other FAA-funded service) from cuts. To minimize disruption at major airports, therefore, FAA officials will likely be forced to cut air traffic service at airports where they would have the least impact on the traveling public—the smaller airports.

The crisis facing the Federal Aviation Administration is illustrative of problems every federal agency will face in the coming months, unless Congress finds a smarter way to ease deficits—one that includes a combination of responsible budget cuts and tax increases.

Airports That Could Be Affected:

Code Airport City State Staff Passengers*
SAV Savannah/Hilton Head International Savannah GA 28 785,251
ISP Long Island MacArthur Ronkonkoma NY 19 781,396
SFB Orlando Sanford International Sanford FL 19 768,938
PSP Palm Springs International Palm Springs CA 13 759,510
PNS Pensacola Regional Pensacola FL 15 750,190
MSN Dane County Regional-Truax Field Madison WI 28 741,365
ICT Wichita Mid-Continent Wichita KS 41 740,675
ACY Atlantic City International Egg Harbor Township NJ 28 668,930
SRQ Sarasota/Bradenton International Sarasota FL 15 657,157
MDT Harrisburg International Middletown PA 28 655,294
BTV Burlington International South Burlington VT 20 636,018
JAN Jackson-Evers International Jackson MS 19 615,622
FAT Fresno Yosemite International Fresno CA 32 615,320
HSV Huntsville International-Carl T Jones Field Huntsville AL 26 614,601
ITO Hilo International Hilo HI 19 605,101
LEX Blue Grass Lexington KY 24 533,952
PHF Newport News/Williamsburg International Newport News VA 16 516,789
LBB Lubbock Preston Smith International Lubbock TX 24 503,580
CAE Columbia Metropolitan Columbia SC 31 487,474
MAF Midland International Midland TX 28 474,423
FNT Bishop International Flint MI 21 473,113
FAI Fairbanks International Fairbanks AK 18 438,188
CID The Eastern Iowa Cedar Rapids IA 18 431,874
ABE Lehigh Valley International Allentown PA 29 428,332
FSD Joe Foss Field Sioux Falls SD 20 418,521
MLI Quad City International Moline IL 18 412,470
PIE St Petersburg-Clearwater International Clearwater FL 17 412,136
BIL Billings Logan International Billings MT 20 407,375
BTR Baton Rouge Metropolitan, Ryan Field Baton Rouge LA 23 396,403
GPT Gulfport-Biloxi International Gulfport MS 25 395,350
ILM Wilmington International Wilmington NC 21 395,156
EUG Mahlon Sweet Field Eugene OR 25 393,504
AMA Rick Husband Amarillo International Amarillo TX 19 392,815
SBA Santa Barbara Municipal Goleta CA 37 367,328
AVL Asheville Regional Fletcher NC 19 361,617
GRB Austin Straubel International Green Bay WI 29 352,157
SGF Springfield-Branson National Springfield MO 32 349,091
FAR Hector International Fargo ND 22 346,284
PSC Tri-Cities Pasco WA 20 327,008
CRP Corpus Christi International Corpus Christi TX 46 322,903
ROA Roanoke Regional/Woodrum Field Roanoke VA 34 320,961
TLH Tallahassee Regional Tallahassee FL 23 305,686
SBN South Bend Regional South Bend IN 25 304,988
CHA Lovell Field Chattanooga TN 22 304,399
JNU Juneau International Juneau AK 12 303,628
MOB Mobile Regional Mobile AL 30 288,461
CRW Yeager Charleston WV 25 282,704
DAB Daytona Beach International Daytona Beach FL 56 274,166
FWA Fort Wayne International Fort Wayne IN 26 272,796
AGS Augusta Regional at Bush Field Augusta GA 19 267,631
BGR Bangor International Bangor ME 22 266,373
SHV Shreveport Regional Shreveport LA 26 265,104
FAY Fayetteville Regional/Grannis Field Fayetteville NC 26 259,445
PIA Greater Peoria Regional Peoria IL 22 249,898
AVP Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Avoca PA 23 228,367
LFT Lafayette Regional Lafayette LA 26 222,795
ASE Aspen-Pitkin County/Sardy Field Aspen CO 13 221,256
TRI Tri-Cities Regional TN/VA Blountville TN 22 220,586
BIS Bismarck Municipal Bismarck ND 17 197,167
MGM Montgomery Regional (Dannelly Field) Montgomery AL 19 188,177
LAN Capital City Lansing MI 25 186,341
MRY Monterey Peninsula Monterey CA 12 181,640
GCN Grand Canyon National Park Grand Canyon AZ 9 172,972
TVC Cherry Capital Traverse City MI 11 170,977
EVV Evansville Regional Evansville IN 30 169,426
GTF Great Falls International Great Falls MT 14 168,158
ACK Nantucket Memorial Nantucket MA 15 164,032
ELM Elmira/Corning Regional Horseheads NY 17 152,582
AZO Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Kalamazoo MI 21 148,634
BFL Meadows Field Bakersfield CA 24 148,347
DLH Duluth International Duluth MN 21 146,578
MBS MBS International Freeland MI 18 136,594
LNK Lincoln Lincoln NE 15 131,215
GFK Grand Forks International Grand Forks ND 23 118,872
ERI Erie International/Tom Ridge Field Erie PA 21 112,749
HTS Tri-State/Milton J. Ferguson Field Huntington WV 20 112,522
RST Rochester International Rochester MN 20 110,295
BGM Greater Binghamton/Edwin A Link Field Johnson City NY 16 108,172
MLU Monroe Regional Monroe LA 13 107,290
STS Charles M. Schulz – Sonoma County Santa Rosa CA 10 102,414
HLN Helena Regional Helena MT 14 100,695
RFD Chicago/Rockford International Rockford IL 28 96,248
FSM Fort Smith Regional Fort Smith AR 31 84,136
CMI University of Illinois-Willard Savoy IL 23 83,731
TOL Toledo Express Swanton OH 24 81,127
ABI Abilene Regional Abilene TX 26 80,434
CSG Columbus Metropolitan Columbus GA 9 78,718
CPR Casper/Natrona County International Casper WY 15 77,758
SPI Abraham Lincoln Capital Springfield IL 19 71,862
FLO Florence Regional Florence SC 16 68,169
LCH Lake Charles Regional Lake Charles LA 20 61,325
ACT Waco Regional Waco TX 22 61,164
SCK Stockton Metropolitan Stockton CA 12 56,044
CRQ McClellan-Palomar Carlsbad CA 18 45,518
TWF Joslin Field – Magic Valley Regional Twin Falls ID 12 38,533
ROW Roswell International Air Center Roswell NM 17 37,262
YNG Youngstown-Warren Regional Vienna OH 22 37,048
BFI Boeing Field/King County International Seattle WA 24 34,434
SUX Sioux Gateway/Col. Bud Day Field Sioux City IA 13 28,137
PUB Pueblo Memorial Pueblo CO 16 22,470
ALO Waterloo Regional Waterloo IA 17 22,297
GGG East Texas Regional Longview TX 20 21,112
MRI Merrill Field Anchorage AK 13 14,261
MKG Muskegon County Muskegon MI 22 14,101
BPT Southeast Texas Regional Beaumont TX 12 13,670

Image: Flickr kstatelibrarian

What’s your take? Do you think this will happen or is it scare tactic by the Federal government to gain support for tax increases? Sound off in the comments below…


  1. Chris says

    Wahhh??? These aren’t all “small” airports! What would airlines do if they were shut down??

    My guess, in the end ticket prices would merely skyrocket for flights in and out of these destinations. They can’t shut the airports down, that would be horrible for the city economies!

    • Ed Jeszka says

      Chris, you are correct. Not all “small” airports. The sad fact remains that the FAA is a “bloated” governmental agency. A few years ago they held a managers/supervisors meeting in Atlanta. It cost around 5 million bucks. They said it was to review the new contract. The contract had been in effect for months and the meeting was held right before Christmas. A real drunken party. You can only guess at the amount of fraud, waste and abuse that goes on within the FAA.

      If Mr. Huerta really wanted to be a truly proactive administrator worth a pinch of salt he would probably be able to come up with the biggest part of the budget shortfall by stopping the phony enforcement actions taking place daily, stopping the perks given to managers in the form of bonuses, stop the wasted travel, review the currency and DPE authorizations and finally just get rid of the dead weight at 800 Independence Ave, including offices like the FAA-AAE that was started with good intentions but has been found to be distributing instructions on how to circumvent the OSC request for information on FAA failures and simply questionable actions. How about the Head of the Western Hemisphere or some such ridiculous title making somewhere around $200,000 as a reward while her spouse is taking down a pretty hefty amount as an FAA lawyer. And then the wife of one of the White House right hand men to the president made chief counsel without any aviation experience. I think you can call this a scare tactic from within the FAA and as such should immediately eliminate Mr. Huerta from consideration for a five year term as Administrator. His first move should have been to tell the public that he will examine every area possible before he got down to closing 106 towers. Why not eliminate that many useless thugs in AVS that have had more than 5 complaints about their integrity or their abuse of authority and leave air traffic alone.

      If we had knowledgeable, competent managers and supervisors within the FAA this scare tactic would have certainly been avoided. Cut the waste and non-productive spending that has no impact on aviation safety. That would make up a rather large part of the mess they are in. Then they can stop moving people around for disciplinary reasons and then paying the freight. So many ways and so little time.

  2. Richard Wyeroski says

    Hi All:

    This is a complete ploy to scare the public. The economic impact of “SHUTTING DOWN” 94 regional airports in will severely up set the economy.

    The real problem is FAA Fraud, Waste and Abuse the is out of control.

    As Ed clearly lays out, the FAA Flight Standards is simply out of control.

    This is nothing more the the FAA Misleading Congress. The people responsible should be removed and put in jail

    Richard Wyeroski

  3. Jim says

    As a retired ATC I say that the first big event Daytona 500 when the rich people cannot fly there friend into DAY or cannot get onto Aspen to ski they will demand they pass a budget. Money talks bull&$%# walks

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