GARY – The full impact of the across-the-board automatic spending cuts imposed by the federal government have yet to be felt, but the they’re already being felt at the Gary/Chicago International Airport.
The airport is dealing with the likely closure of its air traffic control tower and the likely cancellation of the annual South Shore Air Show.
Gary/Chicago International Airport was quick to explain that it is not closing due to the spending cuts, which also are known as sequestration. Even though the air traffic control tower at the airport that has been identified as possibly closing, airport officials said the airport can operate safely with the control tower closed, albeit not as efficiently.
It is not expected that any regularly scheduled flights by Allegiant Airlines will be affected.
At the same time, the South Shore Air Show scheduled for July 12, 13 and 14 on the beaches of the newly renovated Marquette Park in the Miller section of Gary is in jeopardy.
The reason the show is threatened is because spending cuts at the Pentagon will ground all planes, pilots and crews scheduled to air shows around the country. Among the headline acts for the 2013 South Shore Air Show are the F-22 Raptor, the MV-22 Osprey and the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team.
“It’s not just about the military acts, although they are a huge part of our show. For many reasons, we cannot wait until late March or April to make a decision if the show will be a ‘go’ or not,” said Speros Batistatos, President and CEO of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, the organizing agency of the South Shore Air Show. He added, “Food vendors, merchandisers and sponsors are not going to wait around until the 11th hour for us to make a decision on the status of the show. These business professionals are going to maximize their resources with other events, those not impacted by Federal budgeting constraints.”
Batistatos stated that several other air shows throughout the nation also have already “pulled the trigger” and cancelled their events for this year, citing sequestration as the reason.
Regardless of the fate of this year’s show, Batistatos said, “If the situation arises and we have to cancel the 14th annual Air Show, we will continue to work with community leaders on other ‘hallmark events’ such as Whiting’s Pierogi Fest, Hammond’s Festival of the Lakes and the Lake County Fair to bring visitors to the South Shore this summer.”