Overnight air access to and from Roanoke may become more limited if automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration, go into effect March 1.
The airport is on a list of facilities, released by Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood at the end of last week, where overnight shifts at the air traffic control tower could be eliminated.
According to the release, the DOT is beginning discussions with air traffic control unions to eliminate these midnight shifts across the country. The closures could impact services for commercial, general and military aviation across the country.
However, in Roanoke, it is unlikely that changes to midnight shifts would affect commercial travelers, because the airport does not normally run commercial flights late into the day.
According to the online flight schedule, the airport's last incoming flights normally arrive before midnight, and the first departing flights of the morning don't leave until after 5:00 a.m.
However, it is unclear how this could affect incoming flights that are delayed.
The Roanoke Regional Airport is the closest airport to Virginia Tech. Traveling students can also fly out of Richmond International Airport, a three-hour drive, or out of one of the Washington, D.C. area airports around four hours away.
If Congress does not agree to a budget by the beginning of March or passes another round of stop-gap legislation to hold sequestration off further, the DOT will see almost $1 billion cut from its budget.
Those cuts would affect the Federal Aviation Administration, meaning that many of FAA's employees will be be forced to take unpaid days off.
Sequestration refers to a round of automatic budget cuts that will happen across the board, affecting many areas of the federal government, if the sharply divided Congress doesn't agree on and pass a budget plan. The cuts would happen because Congress provided for them in legislation that was meant be an incentive for compromise on a budget.
The changes would not take place until at least April 1.
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