Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Wednesday 9:08 a.m. The FAA has reopened the top level of its permanent air traffic control tower at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. This allowed airport officials to open the second runway. The radar at the base of the tower still isn't working. You should still check with your airline before heading to the airport. 

EarlierAustin-Bergstrom International Airport will be down to one runway likely until the end of the week, and even then, it could take a while longer before flight schedules return to normal.

ABIA's air traffic control tower flooded last week after almost 15 inches of rain fell on the airport. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials cut electricity to the tower to evaluate the damage and clean-up. 


Three Texas airports made the Transportation Security Administration's 2014 top ten list for firearm confiscation at security checkpoints.

Dallas-Fort Worth was at the top of the list; 120 guns were discovered in travelers' carry-on luggage at DFW airport in 2014. Over in Houston, George Bush Intercontinental came in at No. 4 with 77 confiscations, and William P. Hobby airport was at No. 6 with 50 confiscations for the year.

Overall the TSA discovered a record number of guns in carry-ons at U.S. airports last year: 2,212 firearms were confiscated, roughly an average of six per day. Eighty-three percent of those were loaded at the time.

Travelers are facing more flight delays around the country and here in Austin because of budget cuts forcing air traffic controllers to take time off.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, has accused the Federal Aviation Administration of “deliberately engineering flight delays and inconveniencing passengers and creating hardship just in order to try to make a political point.”

Flickr, David Barrie

Remember the Sequester? The across-the-board federal budget cuts? Get ready to start feeling the effects the next time you fly. Delays at the Austin airport could become noticeable as soon as Tuesday.

For air traffic controllers employed by the Federal Aviation Administration, mandatory furloughs are in effect: a forced day off for every pay period. That means fewer controllers working airport control towers.

City of Georgetown

The federal government is delaying the closure of 149 airport control towers to deal with a lawsuit filed by companies that operate the towers under contract.

The first closures had been scheduled for Sunday.

In Texas, towers at smaller airports, including those in San Marcos and Georgetown, got emergency funding this week from the Texas Transportation Commission to stay open for 90 days.

courtesy city of San Marcos

Texas air traffic control towers are staying open for now, thanks to funding approved today by the Texas Transportation Commission.

The $2 million will keep the towers staffed at smaller Texas airports, including the ones in Georgetown and San Marcos, that were set to close as soon as this weekend after mandatory federal budget cuts known as the sequester.

The Georgetown City Council voted unanimously last night to direct airport staff to come up with possible options for keeping the airport tower open. It’s scheduled to close on or after April 7 as part of the federal budget cuts known as sequestration.

Some are concerned safety will be put at risk without tower operators. There are also concerns that revenues will go down and businesses will be hurt because fewer people will use the airport.

courtesy city of San Marcos

With Georgetown and San Marcos losing their air traffic control towers due to sequestration-related budget cuts, one private aviation business owner is concerned the impact could be harmful to Austin and Central Texas.

Last week, the FAA announced 149 air traffic control towers across the country would be closed down. This does not mean entire airport closures. But Jay Carpenter, secretary of the Texas Aviation Association, told KUT News last week that the closures just make the airports less safe. 

KUT News

Some travelers at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport will soon be able to get through security faster.

A Transportation Safety Administration spokesman tells KUT News this morning that ABIA is being added to the TSA’s “Pre Check” Program.

Pre Check allows frequent fliers who’ve met certain requirements to pass through a designated security check point where they may not have to take off their shoes, jackets and belts. They also may not have to remove laptops or liquids from carry-on items.

KUT News

This is the kind of Nemo you don’t want to find.

Winter Storm Nemo, which the Weather Channel is calling a possible “record setting blizzard”, is just getting started on the Northeast coast. But it is already contributing to flight cancelations at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

Ihwa Cheng/KUT News

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport saw more passengers last year than it ever has before. About 9.4 million people departed from or arrived to the airport in 2012. That was a four percent increase from 2011.

ABIA added more non-stop flights last year, including service to Washington D.C., Portland, and Philadelphia. And 200,000 people came through for the Formula One race in November.

But officials say they don’t expect to see the same gains in 2013.

Last month, the Transportation Security Administration said it was moving nearly half its X-ray body scanners from some of the nation's biggest airports to smaller ones. But it turns out that more than 90 of the controversial machines will sit in a Texas warehouse indefinitely, agency officials said Thursday.

The agency says it hopes to someday deploy the warehoused machines, but even that prospect was thrown into doubt by allegations that the manufacturer, Rapiscan Systems, may have falsified tests of its experimental privacy software designed to eliminate explicit images of passengers' bodies.

The machines in the warehouse cost about $14 million total, or roughly $150,000 each.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Austin’s airport certainly looks a lot different from a normal day. There’s additional security, several car service drivers, and a bunch of people in yellow shirts speaking a bunch of different languages.

But it’s not the insane crush many expected for Formula 1.

Despite the anticipated arrival of 18,000 visitors today, “things seem to be running fairly smoothly,” says Jim Halbrook with Austin Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA). “We’ve got customer service representatives throughout the terminal helping people find their way, helping people find their ground transportation."