HUNTERSVILLE – Because of approved funding by the City of Concord, the contract tower at Concord Regional Airport will remain open for two months.
The towers at Concord and Hickory Regional Airport were due to close on April 7. The Federal Aviation Administration announced March 22 it will close both airports’ control towers in addition to 147 other small airport control towers across the country due to federal budget cuts.
The closings come due to the federal government’s requirement that the Department of Transportation cut $1 billion from its budget.
Concord Regional Airport Aviation Director Rick Cloutier told the Herald Weekly the airports will still function, but pilots will now have to communicate with one another to ensure safe landings under visual flight rules.
Concord officials appealed the FAA's decision on March 13, but the appeal didn't buy the airport any time.
Follwing the announcement on March 22, the City of Concord issued this statement:
"Representatives from our community who include airport customers, elected officials, and city staff made an intense effort to provide detailed information to the FAA which clearly indicates that the elimination of this funding source for the airport would be a detriment to our community and nation. The City of Concord remains committed to providing the safest and best customer service at our airport to serve our customers and citizens while protecting as much as possible the economic benefits our region receives from Concord Regional.
Our airport will remain open with or without a tower. Concord City Council approved funding of our contract tower for two months in anticipation of the potential loss of federal funds. During the two-month period, an extensive analysis will be performed to determine the correct course of action."
The $85 billion in sequestration-related budget cuts, of which $637 million comes from the FAA, means Concord airport would see less traffic if the tower closed.
The loss of the tower would do harm to the area’s NASCAR community, which has drivers and teams fly in from other tracks to get home to Lake Norman or to Charlotte Motor Speedway. Concord is a feeder airport for Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.
Cloutier said some planes, because of insurance risks, will have to land at Charlotte-Douglas – already the nation’s sixth-busiest airport, starting next month.