Navigation fixed, airport delay impacts city and businesses - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/9/10

Navigation fixed, airport delay impacts city and businesses

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By Ann Wyatt Little - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – The equipment used to guide planes safely to the ground got a thumbs up from the Federal Aviation Administration Tuesday morning after a series of test flights.

The FAA navigation equipment, or the ILS, used to land during inclement weather has been down for nearly a week. Officials say the problem was not with the equipment but near-by radio frequencies that were causing interference. FAA technicians used special equipment to locate the source of the problem. It led them to several areas around the airport that could be to blame including some traffic counters on the highway and a light pole that may have been emitting noise.

"During the last week we've probably lost 80 to 100 reservations," says David Miller who managed the Budget Rental Car at LPSIA.

Miller didn't fly last week, but he did feel some turbulence in his bottom line. "With our parking business probably $2,000 to $3,000 and with rentals probably around $10,000. We did do quite a few of one way drop-offs to Amarillo because that is only ones we can do. They are also sending cars to us because some people flew into Amarillo and were trying to get back here to Lubbock," he added.

Chaparral Jet Charters says it lost around $10,000 in charter fees and re-fueling planes. Lubbock Aero estimates it too lost revenue while the ILS was down.

The FAA first noticed the problems last Tuesday and since then due to the weather and navigation issues 43 commercial flights between four carriers were delayed or canceled forcing hundreds of people to make alternate travel plans.

Airport and FAA officials say public safety of crews and passengers was the primary concern Mayor Tom Martin says the city did lose money on flights that never left or landed in Lubbock. "Those would be some costs that would run into $10,000 to $20,000 is my estimate," says Martin.

Aviation Director James Loomis says landing fees are calculated based on the weight of each aircraft that lands in the Hub City. "The airport's budget is $10 million and this event in landing fees equaled to about $6,000," adds Loomis, who says concessions may have been impacted but that is a number that he will not know until the end of the month.

"The bigger cost is to the business community and to people's schedules and to their convenience. So many people in Lubbock rely on good air service to do business and for personal trips. It's really a disruption if we lose that service for a small amount of time," says Mayor Martin.

Miller hopes he can make up for the disruption. "I've been out here eight years and never seen anything like this," he said.

There is another ILS system on the airport property but it is for the East and West runway which is under construction. The airport says for safety reasons it could not have been used while the North and South ILS system was out of commission.

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