The Federal Aviation Administration announced Friday that it will delay the closures of all 149 contract air traffic control towers until June 15.
This additional time will allow the agency to attempt to resolve legal challenges to the closure decisions. It was also give the FAA and airports more time to execute the changes to the National Airspace System.
In March, the FAA announced it would eliminate funding for these 149 towers as part of the agency’s required $637 million budget cuts under sequestration. The phrase, four-week closure process for the towers was originally supposed to begin Sunday.
“This has been a complex process, and we need to get this right,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. “We will use this additional time to make sure communities and pilots understand the changes at their local airports.”
As of Friday, about 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.
“We will continue our outreach to the user community to answer any questions and address their concerns about these tower closures,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said.