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Sequester cuts to affect North Florida airports

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The federal budget sequester is a week old, and its effects are now starting to be felt in North Central Florida.

If you made plans for the third annual Gator Fly-In air show on April 27, you can clear your calendar.

Laura Aguiar, spokeswoman for the Gainesville Regional Airport, said the airport and University Air Center have cancelled the show. The federal sequester has the military pulling back on committing aircraft to this type of community event.

If the show had to be canceled, Aguiar said this was the time to do it, before there had been any more planning or expenditures.

The Ocala International Airport will also be feeling the impact of the sequester: It’s one of the airports with a control tower staffed by contractual employees.

The FAA will not be staffing the control tower, meaning the tower will be closing. Ocala International Airport Director Matthew Grow says it won’t be the first time Ocala International will have operated without a control tower.

“We operated without a control tower from 1962 to about the beginning of 2010,” Grow said.

Grow expects the closure of the control tower to affect Ocala International’s status as an airport with a national impact, a status that took some time to reach.

“It’s not like we just started into (the national category) overnight,” he said. “We started this process almost 10 years ago to put the tower in.”

About Forrest Smith

Forrest is a radio news manager for WUFT News. Reach him by emailing news@wuft.org or calling 352-392-6397.

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