I wonder how many towers $200 million could have funded?
The U.S. will close 149 air-traffic control towers run by contractors at small- and mid-sized airports beginning on April 7 as a result of automatic budget cuts at government agencies.
The Federal Aviation Administration spared 24 towers on its original list of 173 subject to closing, it said in an e-mail today. All towers being shut down are run by private companies, not the government as at larger facilities. Another 16 private towers will face 5 percent cuts.
“Unfortunately we are faced with a series of difficult choices that we have to make to reach the required cuts under sequestration,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in an e-mailed statement.
The FAA spared the 24 facilities because airport operators convinced the agency that closing them “would have a negative impact on the national interest,” according to the agency statement. The shutdowns will be phased in over four weeks.
Advocates for pilots and airports said shutting the towers will harm safety and impose economic hardship on businesses such as flight schools that rely on controllers to guide planes.
“The White House does not understand the consequences of these actions, or they do and they simply do not care,” Craig Fuller, president and chief executive officer of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, a Frederick, Maryland-based advocacy group, said at a town-hall meeting yesterday at DuPage Airport in West Chicago, Illinois. “Either way, this approach is dangerous and should not stand.”