Air Force Travel Cuts Affect Robins-Related Business | News
Much of the travel industry around Warner Robins depends on dollars spent by military, civilians and contractors coming to and from Robins Air Force Base.
In early January, the Air Force cut out all travel that's not considered "mission-critical."
That was to save money ahead of the March 1st "sequester," or the deadline for Congress to reach a budget deal or risk automatic budget cuts of more than a billion dollars from military and domestic programs.
Some Robins-related businesses say they are already feeling the pinch of the travel cuts.
Anthony Rogers' Peach Shuttle service started rolling between Robins Air Force Base and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in 2005.
He said, "We do a lot of business with them, transporting military and civilian personnel to and from the Atlanta Airport."
By a lot of business, he means about 70 percent of his riders. He's says it's hit a bump in the road in the past 30 days, dropping 20 percent since the Air Force cut out non-essential travel.
Rogers said, "We're hoping it won't get too bad from this point forward, but we have noticed a bit of a decline."
At the Candlewood Suites, General Manager Jennifer Tucker expected fewer guests.
She said, "We were all a little worried. Of course, this is our livelihood."
But so far, she says rooms have stayed full with Air Force contractors. That's a sector not yet affected by the travel cuts. It's what happens March 1st that's keeping her worried.
The Air Force plans to slash all contracts by 10 percent if sequestration occurs.
Tucker said, "It would severely impact us. We would have to go to alternate routes to find new business."
Fewer guests at her hotel, she says, would mean fewer customers elsewhere in Warner Robins.
Tucker said, "We have 83 rooms, so when we're full, that's 83 guests, plus their guests eating in area restaurants."
Rogers said, "I believe everybody is aware of the situation, and they're praying about it, and they're hopeful that our elected officials will come to terms."
If they don't, Rogers says he will look for areas to expand, although he won't be as certain about the road ahead.
At the same time the Air Force cut non-essential travel, they also froze civilian hiring and ended work for temporary hires.
If sequestration happens, civilians at Robins and other Air Force installations could face 22 unpaid furlough days between April and October.