PROVO, Utah (ABC 4 News) – The federal government is expected to shut down 173 small airport control towers next month, including those in Provo and Ogden.
The Provo Airport opened in 1941. More than 60 years later, in 2005, it finally got a control tower.
Provo Airport Manager Steve Gleason said, “This was an uncontrolled field for a long time.”
The airport is the second largest in the state and one of the largest flight schools in the country. They have about 100,000 flights a year and 65% of those flights are piloted by students. Gleason fears without a tower they could see the same kind of safety issues they saw prior to 2005.
“I always compare it to having a really busy intersection and taking away the street lights and making 65% of the drivers, first time driver,” explained Gleason. “That intersection would be a little dangerous.”
That’s a concern for Allegiant Airlines. Allegiant just started twice a week flights from Provo to Phoenix.
Gleason said, “We spoke with Allegiant and they are concerned obviously, but they do fly into a log of airports that are uncontrolled.”
Allegiant’s biggest concern in Provo is the large amount of student traffic.
“If the tower closes we’re going to have to do some things to make sure we maintain the safety levels we already have for all of the flying public,” said Gleason. “What we’ll be doing is clearing traffic to make sure that passenger air service can get in and out of here safely without coming into contact with any other traffic.”