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FAA delays closing of airport control towers

  • This photo taken March 22, 2013 shows a Cessna aircraft parked near by the air traffic control tower at the Collin County Regional Airport at McKinney, in McKinney, Texas. Starting this weekend, control towers at scores of small airports are to begin shutting down because of government-wide automatic spending cuts. But federal officials insist the closures won't compromise safety, and there's evidence that some of the closures may even make economic sense. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

WASHINGTON — The closings of control towers at 149 small airports, due to begin this weekend because of government-wide spending cuts, are being delayed until June 15, federal regulators announced Friday.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it needs more time to deal with legal challenges to the closures.

Also, about 50 airport authorities and other "stakeholders" have indicated they want to fund the operations of the towers themselves rather than see them shut down, and more time will be needed to work out those plans, the agency said in a statement.

The first 24 tower closures were scheduled to begin Sunday, with the rest coming over the next few weeks. Obama administration officials have said the closures are necessary to accomplish government-wide automatic spending cuts required by Congress.

Despite the delay, the FAA said all 149 of the airport towers, which are operated by private contractors for the agency, will be shut down or turned over to local authorities on June 15. The new schedule is to implement the shutdowns at once, rather than a gradual phase-in as had been planned.


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