Airport officials: Columbia Metro not in danger of shutdown

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) - Officials at Columbia Metropolitan Airport say the facility is not in any danger of shutting down due to federal budget cuts.

"Shaky data and unsupported rumor" have led to what airport officials call "misleading reports" about the airport shutting down as the Federal Aviation Administration faces the potential for $1.35 billion in cuts from its annual budget.

According to a study released by the think-tank Center for American Progress, cuts to defense and other programs could close Columbia Metro through a process known as sequestration. Automatic cuts of $1.2 trillion would be spread out over 10 years.

If Congress fails to reverse those across-the-board cuts, Columbia Metropolitan Airport executive director Dan Mann says the airport will not close down.

"Reports that FAA budget cuts would cause mass furloughs at select airports and that Columbia Metropolitan Airport would close are based on pure speculation and farfetched assumptions," said Mann in a statement released Monday. "FAA is currently responsible for our control tower, yes, but as an airport we have a number of alternatives that would ensure our ability to maintain regular operations regardless of what may be happening with the FAA."

The Florence Regional Airport is also listed as a potential facility that could face closure from sequestration.

South Carolina lawmakers in Washington including Senator Lindsey Graham, Representative James Clyburn, and Representative Joe Wilson have been critics of sequestration, especially when it comes to the potential military component, which could force cuts at South Carolina's military bases.