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FAA delays closing of Ocala International Airport tower

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Ocala International Airport’s federal contract control tower is one of 149 towers that were initially supposed to close on April 21.

According to the Ocala Star-Banner, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that it would delay closing the towers until June 15.

Matthew Grow, airport director for the City of Ocala, said there will not be any changes regarding how the Ocala International Airport control tower is run in spite of the looming closing date.

“We’re status quo,” Grow said. “You won’t notice a difference. The same people are providing the same levels of service.”

Grow said shutting down the tower would revert the airport back to uncontrolled status. That means the airport no longer has a control tower. From 1962 to 2010, the airport was in uncontrolled status. In May 2010, the current tower was implemented.

“We just revert back to those standards where the pilots have to talk to each other and work out their own sequencing to and from the runway,” Grow said. “We’re not sure what the impact will be business-wise if the control tower goes away.”

Grow said that while the addition of the tower brought an increase in the number of incoming jets, there are still other factors that could affect business. He said one of these factors could include restrictions from individual companies that don’t allow employees to fly into uncontrolled airports.

“The FAA made an arbitrary decision without regard for local-specific factors out of any of the airports,” Grow said.

He said controllers at the Ocala control tower are provided by a private company called the RVA Group. The company services airports throughout the entire southeastern United States.

Grow said the RVA Group has issued layoff notices to those employees.

“If Congress doesn’t come up with a solution or alternate funding sources, those controllers will lose their jobs,” Grow said. “There is no severance pay. There is nothing. They’re on unemployment.”

Mike Llerena wrote this story online.

About Mike Llerena

Mike is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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