Airport officials hope tower remains open

As it stands right now, the Williamsport Regional Airport’s air traffic control tower will cease operations Sept. 30.

But airport officials are crossing their fingers that the decision by the Federal Aviation Administration to close the local tower and those at many other airports nationwide will be reversed.

“We are hoping they come to their senses,” Williamsport Municipal Airport Authority Executive Director Thomas J. Hart commented to the board Friday.

The FAA announced last month it will close 149 air traffic control towers, including the one at the airport in Montoursville, due to federal budget cuts.

The local tower is one of six in the state set to be closed.

Hart told the board that a letter was sent to the FAA expressing concerns about shutting down the tower, which would also result in cutting air traffic controllers.

“We asked to be off the (closing) list,” he said. “We didn’t hear directly back from them.”

Airport officials have noted the increased air traffic to the local region with natural gas drilling activity and how busy the airport becomes every August when visitors from around the globe come to Williamsport for the Little World Series.

In addition, the area’s changeable weather patterns and mountainous terrain have been cited as reason why the control tower should remain in operation.

In other action, the board agreed to terminate the authority’s lease agreement with Geisinger Medical Center for separate space for its LifeFlight helicopter and offices.

Under a new lease agreement with Energy Aviation, Geisinger will house its LifeFlight helicopter and offices in one facility at the airport.

Also at the meeting, an agreement between the Authority and Comcast Cable Management was passed to provide cable service to Energy Aviation.