WINDSOR, ONT. -- City leaders are calling on the federal government to remove Windsor International Airport from a planned air traffic control study.

On Tuesday, Windsor West MP Brian Masse, mayor Drew Dilkens, Chamber of Commerce President Rakesh Naidu, corporate pilot Dante Albano as well as members of the Windsor Flying Club voiced concerns of Windsor’s inclusion in NAV Canada’s “detrimental study” which would remove air traffic control from the airport, making it an uncontrolled facility.

“YQG is an amazing local turnaround story. Ten years ago, our tax dollars were going towards subsidizing operations at the airport,” Dilkens said in a news release. “Now, City Hall receives an annual dividend, providing revenues from airport operations that would otherwise have to have been raised via taxes.”

Dilkens said in 2019 the airport experienced its highest ever volume year, serving more than 383,000 passengers.

An uncontrolled airport would eliminate commercial passenger air travel and would create issues for cargo and private planes due to the “complex airspace” of having five airports in the area including public, private, US national guard and US coast guard, the release says.

“Loss of Tower staff will likely result in some airlines opting to avoid Windsor for safety and insurance reasons, impacting the local economy,” said Richard Bradwell, manager of Windsor Flying Club. “Windsor airport has been enjoying a growth in commercial and private business

travel and has seen significant private investment in facilities, creating jobs and providing needed tax dollars.”

Local pilot Albano says the airport has too many moving parts to go with an air traffic control tower.

“The airport has two busy flight schools, an aircraft museum, a growing number of corporate planes, many private planes, and scheduled air service. Running flight schools without a control tower works in some places, but not when we have commercial air services coming in and out of the same airport,” he said.

Masse called for a “clear and definitive answer” regarding the future of Windsor’s International airport.

“In this time of uncertainty, we want to ensure Windsor’s International Airport remains a thriving hub for the city’s economy,” he said.