By: Shannon Williams
This week’s money share dips into the economic impact of new FAA restrictions at the San Marcos airport.
Other Side Drive: Wednesday
Nationwide, funding for air control towers is low. In late March, the Federal Aviation Administration announced control tower closures in central Texas airports including San Marcos and New Braunfels. Air control towers at the San Marcos airport currently have a 90 day reprieve while funding allocated from the Texas Transportation Commission keeps the towers running.
Professor Larry Fulton, a pilot and instructor of Quantitative Methods, sees an economic downturn should the control towers close. With issues of safety, he says, corporate and private pilots may seek safer landing conditions still in operation at the Austin and San Antonio airports.
“The reason why the control tower is so important is because it provides a level of safety. If you’re a corporate executive and you’re going to be spending money on fuel etcetera, you are likely to choose an airport with a control tower versus one that doesn’t.”
The budget constraints have local pilots and businessmen watching, as local economy may be affected.
“An aircraft that comes in, just a small corporate jet that lands in San Marcos, let’s just say they purchase fuel. Just the fuel purchase alone will be thousands of dollars. When you remove that airport, you remove that revenue and the revenue associated from the taxes.”
Fulton says he could see a loss in revenues at the San Marcos outlet malls as fewer travelers would visit the area. As San Marcos is nestled between the growing south Austin and North San Antonio metropolitan areas, and with additions to Central Texas such as the Circuit of the Americas race track farther East – tower closures changes may be coming at an inopportune time for San Marcos.
“You know, honestly I just don’t want to see the tower go away, I’ll be honest with you. And some may disagree with me. But here’s the problem: If the tower goes away it affects us economically, it lowers safety and it goes the wrong direction for the way San Marcos is going.”