Could 6 Florida airports, including St. Pete-Clearwater and Sarasota-Bradenton, be forced to shut down?

6:07 PM, Aug 8, 2012   |    comments
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ST. PETERSBURG, Florida -- Could dozens of airports around the country be on the chopping block?

According to a report from The Center for American Progress, a think tank based in Washington, DC, it's a possibility by the end of the year if Congress can't reach a budget deal.

The report lists six Florida airports, including St. Pete-Clearwater and Sarasota-Bradenton, as possibilities for closure.

"The idea that over 100 airports would close is a catastrophe for the nation," said Noah Lagos, Director the St. Pete-Clearwater airport.

The report speculates that as Congress searches for ways to cut more than a trillion dollars, the FAA could get hit hard, including the loss of thousands of air traffic controllers.

The Florida Department of Transportation estimates the six airports in the state listed employ 55,000 people and have an annual economic impact of six billion dollars.

"I don't think there's a good chance of this happening," Lagos said.

Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL), whose district includes parts of Pinellas and Manatee Counties, tells 10 News if a budget deal can't be reached "in addition to airports and traffic controllers, our schools, universities, medical research, infrastructure and MacDill Air Force base would suffer."

The director of the Sarasota-Bradenton airport has also said he thinks the possibility of this happening is slim.

President Obama has yet to say what specifically may be cut.

Rep. Bill Young (R-FL), whose district includes St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, didn't comment on the situation.

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