The closure of 149 air traffic control towers across the country will be delayed by 2-1/2 months.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration announced today the closures, which were set to begin April 7, would be delayed until June 15.
Initially planned as a phased four-week process, the closures now all will occur simultaneously, the FAA said.
The FAA in March said it would cut funding for the federal contract air traffic control towers after sequestration forced the agency to slash $637 million from its budget.
The FAA opted for the delay in order to handle legal challenges to the decision and to give the agency additional time to work with airports to make the necessary changes.
“This has been a complex process and we need to get this right,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Safety is our top priority. We will use this additional time to make sure communities and pilots understand the changes at their local airports.”
Airport authorities and stakeholders for about 50 of the airports impacted by the closures have expressed interest in funding the tower operations themselves and are interested in joining the FAA’s non-federal contract tower program, the FAA said.
“We will continue our outreach to the user community to answer any questions and address their concerns about these tower closures,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.