TYLER (KYTX) - We're learning more about the future of the air traffic control tower at Tyler Pounds Regional Airport. On Friday, the Federal Aviation Administration announced it would cut funding for the tower.
The airport would remain open, but control tower duties would no longer be handled in Tyler. All 6 tower employees would be without jobs.
Airport manager Davis Dickson said it could be May 5th before the cuts happen in Tyler.
The topic of conversation among passengers in the security line at Tyler Pounds Regional Airport is one of concern.
"I feel like it's a little unfair and I really hate to see what's happening to the smaller regional areas," said Curt Malone.
For East Texas businessman Curt Malone, the possible closure of the air traffic control tower is a bad decision.
"These places are so important for us to be able to conduct business where we don't have the big metropolitan space," said Malone.
Airport manager Davis Dickson said he has been in meetings since the FAA announcement, trying to figure out what to do next.
Grant opportunities, funding from the city, along with local and private partnerships are ideas that have all been tossed around.
But, right now, there's more questions than answers.
"I think it's a challenge that we're ready to conquer and we're ready to look at every option out there," said Dickson.
The city is still unsure how much it will cost to continue to operate the tower. It's a matter of what they need and what they can do without.
East Texas pilot Tom Kraus would like for the tower to keep all six air traffic controllers.
"It's always better to have controllers in our towers, and on the ground, to facilitate the traffic after we land and when we're coming in," said Tom Kraus.
Dickson said he's going to continue to talk to the FAA about the importance of this airport that services between 150,000 and 200,000 passengers.
An airport that is also a big part of the medical and military community in this area.
"This airport is needed for more than Tyler, Texas or Smith County, It serves a huge area," said Dickson.
An area that will do anything to keep it's air control tower in business.
"Anything we can do as a community to get behind Tyler Pounds and whatever it might take to keep it going," said Malone.
We tried to contact R.V.A, the company that operates the air traffic tower. They're a contractor of the FAA.
They told us they did not have a comment about the situation.
We also contacted American and United Airlines today. Those two carriers fly out of Tyler Pounds Regional. We wanted to know if they would continue to fly in and out of an airport that did not have a manned control tower.
We did not receive an answer by the time of our deadline.