Critics say eliminating overnight shift at Syracuse airport is safety concern

In a letter addressed to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner says eliminating the overnight shift at Hancock International Airport is a safety concern.

Aviation Commissioner, Christina Callahan, agrees with Mayor Miner. Callahan says the cuts would be dangerous especially during winter months when snow removal is continuous and crews rely on air traffic controllers to ensure their safety.

"We hope that (FAA) administrator Huerta will take a serious look at it and make a decision not based on dollar and cents, but based on the safety of people and planes at the airport," says Callahan.

Dozens of flights are diverted to Hancock airport everyday if they can't land at some of the bigger East Coast hubs. Even though there are no scheduled flights between 11pm and 5am, it doesn't mean a diverted flight wouldn't come in at that time.

Joe Janowski is not only the President of Travel Leaders in Liverpool, he's also been a pilot since 1978 and has flown into Hancock countless times. He says he wouldn't feel comfortable flying without an air traffic controller on duty, especially during the winter months.

"You're not going to get the same effect as the guy looking with his binoculars from the tower and seeing you landing and where you're coming in and see if there's other aircraft in the area and stuff," says Janowski.

Larry Denecke of Richmond, VA travels to Syracuse a few times a year for business and says the majority of the time, his flight is diverted and he lands after midnight. He says eliminating overnight shifts for air controllers would be inconvenient.

"I'll have to fly to another airport and drive up here. Or I'll have to come in early and it will cost me money and time away from family and friends," says Denecke.

Abigail Willmer of Cortland, NY says the FAA should do more research before eliminating shifts at airports with severe winters.

"What they would have to look at really is where this works and where it doesn't work because in places where there is snow it will not work," says Willmer.

Comments are due to the FAA Wednesday and final decisions are scheduled to be announced Monday. From that point, it's up in the air when those cuts will take place at our airports.