Airport Closures?

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LUZERNE COUNTY – If you read some of the morning papers, you might be worried about air service cutbacks hitting close to home.

The Scranton Times-Tribune newspaper was one of the papers reporting that more than 100 U.S. airports are at risk, and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport could be forced to close.

“It would make absolutely no sense to close our airport. First of all, it`s been fully renovated by the federal, state, and local governments over the last several years and it would be a big mistake for the federal government, after investing so much money in our facility, to then close it,” said Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O’Brien.

O’Brien is on the board of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport. He questions the study done by the Center for American Progress, a nonpartisan think-tank based in Washington, D.C.

“I think it would be irrational to jump to conclusions based on a study by an organization. I think we need to take a deep breath and thoroughly review the situation,” said O’Brien.

The study claims the closings could happens because of federal spending cuts slated to start in January, decreasing the federal deficit. The FAA needs to cut nine percent of its budget over the next 10 years, and according to the study, it’s likely the FAA will be forced to cut air traffic service at airports with $750,000 passengers or less per year.

Senator Robert Casey reacted to the study saying, “Loss of air traffic control at these airports is obviously an unacceptable scenario. I am confident that Republicans and Democrats will come together to the avoid the adverse impact of arbitrary cuts.”

Officials said they are talking with the White House to find out what the next steps are, and working to make sure the closures don’t take flight.