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FAA to keep control towers at midsize airports open at night

May 08, 2013|By Hugo Martin
  • The FAA says it doesn't know whether budget cuts will force it to close air-traffic control towers at smaller airports, including this one at Riverside Municipal Airport.
The FAA says it doesn't know whether budget cuts will force it to close… (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)

Budget cuts won't force the closure of air traffic control towers during overnight shifts, the Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday.

But the federal agency said it is still uncertain whether it will be forced this summer to close towers operated by contractors at 149 small and medium-size airports, including several in Southern California.

Budget cuts called for by the federal sequestration forced the FAA in April to furlough air traffic controllers for one day every two weeks. The staff cuts led to air travel delays at many of the nation's biggest airports.

To cut more than $600 million from its budget, the FAA said it also planned to close towers at several medium-size airports at night, including L.A./Ontario International Airport, and completely shutter towers operated by contractors at 149 smaller airports, starting June 15.

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In response, Congress passed a law in April, giving the FAA the authority to transfer money from other accounts to pay for staffing.

The FAA put an end to the furloughs but it is not clear whether the legislation will let the FAA keep the contract towers open this summer.

Among the contractor-run towers that could face closure are at airports in Fullerton, Oxnard, Riverside, San Diego, Victorville, Pacoima and Lancaster.

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