The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it will delay the closures of 149 air traffic control towers until June 15, including the one in St. Petersburg.
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. Extending the transition deadline will give the FAA and airports more time to execute the changes to the National Airspace System.
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. This additional time will allow the FAA to help facilitate that transition.
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.