The Federal Aviation Administration will close 149 contract air-traffic control towers beginning April 7 because of the sequester, the agency announced in a statement Friday.
Some communities will assume the cost of continuing the operation of those towers, the agency said.
“We will work with the airports and the operators to ensure the procedures are in place to maintain the high level of safety at non-towered airports,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.
The FAA spared 24 contract towers that were previously slated for shuttering, having decided that closure “would have a negative impact on the national interest,” according to the statement.
The agency will also keep open 16 additional towers operating under a federal cost-sharing program, the statement said.
The FAA had said in March that it would have to close 189 contract towers as part of the agency’s plan to meet its $637 million in target savings under the sequester.
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association said in a statement on Friday that the tower closures would “reduce the overall margin of safety of our entire aviation system.”
“Ultimately, the partisan posturing in Washington that led to sequestration is the reason for today’s decision and its destructive effects on aviation,” said NATCA president Paul Rinaldi. “The FAA made a bad situation worse by not utilizing a well-thought-out process for evaluating the value of air traffic control towers before ordering their closure.”
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