NEW UPDATE – May 1: Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood now says, no towers will close.
UPDATE April 5: The FAA now says it will delay the closures of all towers until June 15.
The FAA says it will close 149 federal contract airport control towers – for mostly general aviation facilities or small airports with relatively little traffic – beginning April 7 to meet demands of sequestration (automatic budget cuts for federal agencies).
Fewer Towers to Close than Expected
It could have been worse: the government is keeping another 24 of these towers open, despite being proposed for closure earlier this year. Passengers may experience delays as a result, but flights will continue.
Towers Close but Airports Stay Open
Just because a tower closes doesn’t mean the airport will. As Bloomberg reports, “Planes, including airliners, can continue to fly to airports without towers. Most of the roughly 5,000 U.S. public airports don’t have towers. Instead of being guided by controllers, pilots radio each other to coordinate landings and takeoffs, according to FAA procedures.”
States Losing the Most Towers
An example of one of the closures is little Whiteman Airport in the greater Los Angeles area which has just a single runway and is occasionally used by celebrities and others for private jet trips (though stars generally use the more easily accessible Van Nuys Airport and its tower will remain open). California though wasn’t the hardest hit region; here is a list of the states with most tower closures.
- Florida – 14 closures
- Texas – 13 closures
- California – 11 closures
You can see the FAA’s entire list of airport tower closures here.