- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Blame the sequester — the Federal Aviation Administration is.

The FAA said Tuesday that forced spending cuts have led to its decision to close down 173 air traffic control towers, beginning April 7. The towers serve small- and medium-size airports, CNN reports.


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The FAA went back and forth on the decision for days.

CNN reports that Spenser Dickerson, who heads the Contract Tower Association, said the FAA initially said it was going to close towers — and then changed its tune and said it wasn’t. And now the latest news: It is. Those messages all were sent within a five-day period, Mr. Dickerson said to CNN.


The FAA could change its mind yet again.

CNN says that the FAA will remove some of those planned closures from the list if airport officials can show why the tower is needed for national interest.

In addition to the 173 closures, FAA said it’s also shuttering another 16 on Sept. 30, when the fiscal year wraps, CNN reports.

“We’re extremely discouraged and disappointed that the FAA is taking this action,” Mr. Dickerson said to CNN. “The rest of the FAA’s budget is getting a 5 percent haircut. The contract towers are getting a 75 percent cut because the FAA is cutting 189 of the 251 contract towers.”

The FAA is having a difficult time making a decision, however. Last Wednesday, the FAA announced plans to close 168 towers, CNN reported.