St. Augustine, FL - They might be labeled a small airport, but officials at Northeast Florida Regional in St. Augustine say they don't get a small amount of traffic. Forecasting 150,000 arrivals and take-offs this year, Airport Director Ed Wuellner says they can't afford to lose their tower.
"It didn't consider the activity levels that many airports experience. And it didn't keep up with the FAA's core mission of aviation safety, so we were more than a little concerned," says Wuellner.
He says that traffic also secures jobs and the local economy with people flying in for events as far away as Daytona Beach.
"I can't imagine the FAA didn't have a better places to take this small amount of money from other than closing towers and jeopardizing public safety," says Wuellner.
He describes losing their tower as taking away a stop sign from the businest intersection in town. Senator Bill Nelson is in town today to hear Wuellner's concerns and to strengthen his own efforts to keep the 14 effected towers in Florida open.
"The loss of air traffic controllers at these towers poses a real public safety issue and a threat to local business and commerce," said Nelson.