Ogden, Provo airports facing possible tower closures

Posted at 4:08 PM, Mar 01, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-01 21:25:21-05

OGDEN, Utah - Two of Utah's airports could lose air traffic control thanks to the federal spending cuts just after they gain commercial air service.

The Federal Aviation Administration released a list of potential tower closures at facilities across the country, and the Ogden-Hinckley and Provo Airports are among that list. Provo just started Frontier Airline service to Denver, and Allegiant started flying at Ogden in August.

"The flights have been running an average of 93 percent load capacity so we have been thrilled," said Sara Toliver, president and CEO of the Ogden/Weber Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Officials say the success in new flights has exceeded their expectations, especially with Arizona tourists headed to Ogden.

"For the Ogden area, the exposure to our market is especially crucial to us. We're still an up and coming market. People know Utah skiing so for the opportunity to express that and have the exposure to that market has been phenomenal," Toliver said.

But if air traffic control at the Ogden-Hinckley Airport's tower, the exposure and tourist dollars disappear.

"It's a hard service to reduce because Allegiant would leave if they don't have controlled airspace," said Tom Christopulos, Ogden community and economic development director.

Local leaders around the country are facing the same problem as those in Ogden and Provo. The cuts loom, but none of it is planned and there isn't much information that they can use to make decisions.

Ogden is considering the possibility of filling the money gap and paying for controllers themselves, but even that is an unknown.

"We don't even know what the full contribution would be to keep the tower open at this moment in time because we've never had to deal with it," Christopulos said.

Ogden-Hinckley Airport wasn't notified by the FAA of a possible air traffic control loss; they were told about the cuts by local controllers.