McKinley (R-W.Va.) says the FAA has many other places to cut funding than the
staffing of air traffic control towers.
"They spent last year,
$500 million in consulting fees, they spent over $200,000 in travel expenses,
and there were over 55 different recommendations as to how they can save money,"
The Congressman from Wheeling says closing towers punishes people in rural America and puts the flying public at risk. In West Virginia, four towers are slated to close. In Texas, there are 13.
So the Texas Legislature
stepped up and pledged the funding to stop the closures.
"If we could afford to
do that in West Virginia, that's fine. But since
we're strapped like many other rural states, we're turning back to the FAA and
asking them to re-think that," he said.
McKinley says West Virginia's small airports are
the lifeblood for business and economic revitalization.
"Keep in mind, some
corporate jets are not allowed to land at an airport without a tower," he said.
"So you've now cut off the ability for corporations or large companies to come
into an area to even consider that or not. So let's re-think that."
Airport Manager Tom
Tominack maintains that it's a matter of safety.
"When you attempt to close 149 control towers across the country, there's no doubt that safety's going be adversely affected, not just at Wheeling but a number of airports are concerned nationwide," Tominack said.
The closure is now set to happen June 15.