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Fate of Sonoma County airport tower remains up in the air

The Federal Aviation Administration on Friday released its long-awaited list of air traffic control towers to be closed because of federal budget cuts, but it did not resolve the fate of Santa Rosa's airport.

The FAA said it would close 149 towers run by private companies under contract starting April 7, part of the effort to meet the $637 million in automatic budget cuts imposed on the agency March 1 when Congress and the White House failed to reach an agreement on reducing the federal budget deficit.

The announcement does not clarify the fate of the tower at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport, however, since it is staffed by FAA employees, not contractors, Airport Manager Jon Stout said. The FAA has yet to say how it will handle those towers.

The issue is complicated, Stout said, by the fact that the labor contract for air traffic controllers requires a 12-month notice to the union before a tower is closed. As of Friday, controllers at the airport had not received such a notice.

"We're kind of in limbo right now," he said, "but we hope we have at least a year."

— Sean Scully


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