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"TxDOT says it will fund thirteen air traffic control towers"

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

TxDOT says it will fund Executive Airport's air traffic control tower, but
city of Dallas doesn't want to take any chances
By Robert Wilonsky
The Dallas (TX) Morning News

As we reported over the weekend, the Dallas City Council will vote Wednesday
to spend $334,704 in Aviation Department funds to keep Dallas Executive
Airport's air traffic control tower open through September 30. But the Texas
Department of Transportation has said it too "intends to fund continued
service of air traffic controllers" when sequestration hits April 7. Its
emergency session is scheduled for April 4.

"And we don't know what they're going to do," says Dallas Deputy Mayor Pro
Tem Tennell Atkins, who has scheduled at 4:30 press conference today at the
airport formerly known as Redbird to discuss this week's council vote.
"We're in a Catch-22. TxDOT says, 'We're gonna do it,' but it's a gamble.
They're talking about funding 13 airports, not just one - not just
Executive. It's 13. We want people to know the city of Dallas is going to
pay for it if they're not."

And by people, Atkins means the airport's two fixed base operations at
Executive: Jet Center of Dallas and Ambassador Jet Center . (Of course, the
city doesn't have to spend the money if the state chooses to; this may turn
out to be more of a symbolic gesture.)

"You've got to be conscious about the employees and people with leases
there," says Atkins. "We can't leave a bad taste in their mouths. The main
thing is we have to make sure the tenants there are happy, and the customers
there are safe."

Of course, Executive doesn't see anywhere near the traffic it used to.
According to stats provided by the city last year the airport saw 370
take-offs and landings a day, on average, which put it well behind the likes
of Addison Airport (458 a day) and Arlington Municipal Airport (415 per
day). But that's Atkins' point: As the city tries yet again to make
something of Executive (which "has been hampered in its development due to
misperceptions," according to a May 2012 council briefing), the last thing
it needs it to have its air traffic control tower closed.

"There are just a whole lot of questions to be addressed after April 7,"
says Atkins, among them: "What do you do in the future about Dallas
Executive Airport? A lot more corporate people are flying in there. We're a
relief airport. The only problem is we don't have all the corporate people
like we should have, and if we got more corporate accounts there we'd have a
great airport competing with Addison. So we're gonna tee it up Wednesday.
We've got to understand what the political climate down in Austin is. Are
they gonna change their mind and pass it down to the locals. That's a
choice. [Gov. Rick] Perry said they're gonna take care of us, but you don't
know who's going to take care of what."

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