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FAA to delay 149 airport tower closures until June

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration is delaying the closing of 149 airport control towers until mid-June in order to deal with legal challenges.

The first 24 closures had been scheduled for Sunday.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday the closures will be delayed until June 15. Trade groups representing companies that operate the towers under contract for FAA filed a lawsuit Thursday in federal court in Washington.

The agency says about 50 airport operators and communities have also indicated they may want to pay for operation of the towers themselves, and more time is needed to work out those details.

FAA has previously said the closures are necessary to accommodate automatic spending cuts.

J. Spencer Dickerson, Executive Director of the U.S. Contract Tower Association (USCTA), released the following statement in response to the decision:

“We appreciate the decision by DOT Secretary LaHood, FAA Administrator Huerta and their teams to delay the imminent closure of 149 contract air traffic control towers in light of the serious and
unanswered questions that have been raised by airports, aviation system users, affected communities, and members of Congress.” Dickerson said. “Today’s decision is a welcome development, and we
remain hopeful that DOT and FAA will find a way forward to deal with budget realities in a way that doesn’t disproportionately target contract towers, which provide immense safety benefits in a cost-effective manner. We look forward to continued engagement with the department, the agency, and Congress to ensure that these critical air traffic facilities remain open and operational over the long-term.”