The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

June 13, 2013

Joplin Regional Airport manager says FAA budget cuts ‘scary’

Joplin’s airport manager says that failure of the federal government to stop sequestration cuts of air traffic controllers effective Sept. 30 puts airports and travelers on the verge of something “very scary.”

Steve Stockam this week attended a policy committee meeting of the U.S. Contract Tower Association in Washington, D.C.

He also called on Missouri’s senators, Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill, and Rep. Billy Long, R-Springfield, to discuss options for trying to prevent budget sequestration cuts that would trim air traffic control jobs Sept. 30, the end of the federal fiscal year. The Federal Aviation Administration has scheduled 160 towers to close then, including Joplin’s.

An earlier round of furloughs and closures of 149 air control towers that went into effect at the end of April was halted after three days by congressional action because the lack of controllers stalled so many flights.

The cuts are taking place because the FAA has been under a mandate to cut its budget by $637 million this fiscal year. It has targeted tower closures or air traffic controller cuts for the nation’s smaller airports, those with fewer than 150,000 flights.

The April cuts delayed 40,000 flights and canceled nearly 2,000 within three days, causing Congress to act to stop those cuts and furloughs.

“The budget is a big issue with the sequestration,” Stockam said. “If there is new budget bill before Oct. 1, we have asked for language to fund all the contract towers, which is $150 million.”

Another option would be for Congress to pass a continuing resolution to protect the towers from the cuts, Stockam said.

Complicating the problem is a mute FAA.

“One of the things so frustrating is the lack of communication we’re having with the FAA,” Stockam said. “Right now, the FAA is not speaking with us about the contract. This is a program that’s been going on for 50 years, and it’s always been a program of cooperation.

“We were stakeholders,” and sat around the table to hold discussions and resolve any issues facing the FAA. “For some reason, we’ve been totally blocked out of this process. So there is a high level of frustration and apprehension” among airport managers over this issue.

“We don’t believe the FAA has full understanding of the impact of this decision,” he said.

In April at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, where Joplin’s American Eagle flights come and go, “We were on the verge of something very, very scary for the flying public,” Stockam said. That will happen again in September, he said.

Stockam is trying to plan the airport’s budget for next year, a difficult chore while staring at the possibility of the tower closing, he said.

A last-ditch effort to protect those operations at the Joplin Regional Airport would be to see if the City Council would support the city paying for air traffic control.

That possibility could cost the city $250,000 to $300,000, Stockam said.

Blunt issued a statement saying the airport is important to travel, tourism and the economy of Southwest Missouri.

“I’ll continue working to ensure the Obama administration targets sequestration cuts in a smarter way to avoid unnecessary and irresponsible closures,” Blunt said in a statement issued by his office.

McCaskill spokesman Drew Pusateri said, “Claire’s priority is ensuring that these kinds of decisions are made with the safety of Missourians in mind, and in order for that to be accomplished, there will need to be closer and better communication between local communities and the FAA.”

Contract workers

JOPLIN, as a federal cost-share air traffic control tower, owns and pays for the maintenance costs of the tower. The controllers work for a company that contracts with the FAA rather than working directly for the FAA.

Text Only
Local News
  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: It’s not Mayberry, but Carthage is close

    When I was a kid, I wanted to live in Mayberry. In a way, I suppose I still want to live in Mayberry, the fictional town featured in the classic Andy Griffith show of the 1960s.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Missouri attorney general defends his support of Amendment 1

    With a large cornfield behind him and campaign signs all around, Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster appeared Wednesday at the David Collard farm to tout Amendment 1, an Aug. 5 ballot measure that would make the “right to farm” part of the state constitution.

    July 23, 2014

  • Joplin school board reviews audit procedures

    A team from the Missouri State Auditor’s Office has begun requesting documents in its task to audit the operations and management of the Joplin School District, the audit manager told the Board of Education on Tuesday.

    July 22, 2014

  • Joplin man to stand trial in accident case

    A passenger accused of causing an accident on Interstate 44 in Joplin that injured three others as well as himself was ordered bound over for trial Tuesday on three felony counts.

    July 22, 2014

  • Pseudoephedrine sales in Pittsburg to require prescription

    Starting Friday, those who purchase pseudoephedrine and related products in Pittsburg will need a prescription to do so.

    July 22, 2014

  • r072214soroptimist3.jpg Volunteers spend week providing camp experience to foster youths

    Karen McGlamery is a massage therapist. Terri Falis-Cochran is a finance manager. Jane McCaulley is a retired art teacher. But for a week each summer, the three are among dozens of area residents who become camp counselors.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Jasper County Commission reviews traffic plans

    The Jasper County Commission will hold public hearings today and Thursday on a number of traffic changes proposed in the county. No one spoke when the first hearing was held Tuesday as part of the regular commission meeting, according to Jim Honey, Eastern District associate commissioner.

    July 22, 2014

  • Neosho school board hires company to manage substitutes

    Citing its hopes of shifting health care costs and utilizing more time from retired teachers, the Neosho Board of Education granted a contract Monday to a temporary employee company to manage its substitute teacher program.

    July 22, 2014

  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: Parents can get help with school supplies

    I don’t know much about demographics other than the fact that I no longer belong to a “targeted demographic.” When I was younger, I was bombarded by commercials and ads from companies that were trying to sell me things that I not only needed but wanted.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cherokee County Commission accepts general counsel's resignation

    Kevin Cure, who has served as general counsel for the Cherokee County Commission since 2005, submitted a handwritten resignation to the board on Monday in the aftermath of a landfill controversy.

    July 22, 2014

Must Read


Have you ever served as a volunteer for your state's conservation department?

A. Yes.
B. No.
     View Results
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter