The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Nation & World

March 22, 2013

FAA to close 149 air traffic towers under cuts

(Continued)

CHICAGO —

Some aviation experts say the elimination of overnight shifts should have been carried out regardless of the sequester at facilities that don't see enough traffic to justify the expense of staffing towers.

The budget cuts being forced on the FAA could provide the agency with political cover to make some of those changes.

"There's a tendency over time to have Congress direct more money to small airports than would probably be economically justified," explained Robert Poole, an aviation analyst at the Reason Foundation think tank.

He said his own initial review of the list released Friday showed that many of the towers that will close around the clock are at airports with few or no scheduled passenger flights, indicating that Friday's decision would likely have little effect on airline service.

Hoping to escape the final cut, airport directors were left to argue with the FAA about whether the closure of their facilities would adversely affect what the agency described in a letter as the "national interest."

After reviewing those responses, the FAA decided to keep open 24 towers, including one at the Kissimmee Gateway airport serving Orlando, Fla., and the Denver area's Front Range airport.

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