FAA delaying closure of 149 air traffic control towers at small airports

FAA says it will delay closure of 149 air traffic control towers at small airports until June.

/ File

The Federal Aviation Administration says it will delay closure of 149 air traffic control towers at small airports until June according to information reported by the Federal Aviation Administration.

FAA officials have released the following press release over the closure delays:

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration announced today that it will delay the closures of all 149 federal contract air traffic control towers until June 15. Last month, the FAA announced it would eliminate funding for these towers as part of the agency's required $637 million budget cuts under sequestration.

This additional time will allow the agency to attempt to resolve multiple legal challenges to the closure decisions. As part of the tower closure implementation process, the agency continues to consult with airports and operators and review appropriate risk mitigations. Extending the transition deadline will give the FAA and airports more time to execute the changes to the National Airspace System.

"This has been a complex process and we need to get this right," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "Safety is our top priority. We will use this additional time to make sure communities and pilots understand the changes at their local airports."

As of today, approximately 50 airport authorities and other stakeholders have indicated they may join the FAA's non-Federal Contract Tower program and fund the tower operations themselves. This additional time will allow the FAA to help facilitate that transition.

"We will continue our outreach to the user community to answer any questions and address their concerns about these tower closures," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

On March 22, the FAA announced that it would stop federal funding for 149 contract towers across the country. A phased, four-week closure process was scheduled to begin this Sunday, April 7. That phased closure process will no longer occur. Instead, the FAA will stop funding all 149 towers on June 15 and will close the facilities unless the airports decide to continue operations as a nonfederal contract tower.

Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. announced that he has joined with 46 of his colleagues in sending a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration protesting the closure of 149 federal contract air traffic control towers due to budget cuts associated with sequestration and requesting consideration of all possible alternatives to maintain some level of service for the air towers.

"The closure of these air traffic control towers is another example of the disastrous effects of sequestration," said Congressman Bishop. "If the process is allowed to continue, it will have a severe impact on services to the Albany and Macon airports and potentially create a safety risk. I will continue to fight to keep these towers open and urge Congress to replace the sequester with a more sensible solution."

Stay connected to as stories develop and the FOX 31 Newscast at 10 PM. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter to join in on the conversation and connect with FOX 31!