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Sequester's Bite: 173 Air Traffic Control Towers to Close
Despite efficiency, contract towers bear brunt of cuts
By Mark Russell, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2013 9:33 AM CST
The new 233-foot tall air traffic control tower at New York's LaGuardia Airport is clad in Alcoa's lightweight, versatile Reynobond aluminum composite material panels.   (Photo: Business Wire)

(Newser) – OK, maybe the sequester hasn't hit the airline industry just yet, but wait until April 7. That's when 173 air traffic control towers at small- and medium-sized airports around the nation will close; 16 more will be shuttered on Sept. 30. As CNN explains, the affected towers are the majority of the nation's 251 contract towers, which are staffed by contractors rather than FAA employees. While the sequester is slicing 5% from the FAA's budget, the funds for contract towers are getting slashed 75%.

This despite costing an average of $537,000 a year to operate, or about one-quarter the cost of a similar FAA-staffed tower. "We're extremely discouraged and disappointed that the FAA is taking this action," says the head of the Contract Tower Association. "It's hard for us to see the fairness in the budget cuts." And though the contract towers handle only 6% of commercial airline operations, they manage 28% of all air traffic control tower operations. CNN says the aircraft that rely on these towers should be able to land on their own or get assistance from a more distant tower—which could further stress FAA resources. About 49 FAA-run control towers could face closure.

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Mar 13, 2013 6:20 AM CDT
Take the bus.
Mar 7, 2013 10:52 AM CST
The TSA spends $50m a year on uniforms. Homeland security is is abusing it's power. It's over sized, over priced & over hyped. We are fighting wars we have no business fighting, Kerry & Panetta are beating the war drums over Iran & Syria. There's plenty of money to be cut that no one would feel the effects of. We wouldn't need any new taxes either. Obama is doing his level best to drag us over the edge & it's not necessary. He wants us to pay $6 a gallon for gas, he wants us to wait 6 months for "non essential" surgeries. I'm sick of it all.
Mar 7, 2013 4:03 AM CST
I would like too know when the schools stopped teaching history? Since most of the people who respond on NEWSER seem tobe under forty, I'm going to give you one. In the 1980's, in them olden days, the ATC's got fired by the President. There were no major airport shut-downs, the little private airplanes didn't have to stay on the ground and air travel wasn't one big mess. Sure there where some delays and some airports did curtail some landings at night. But, there wasn't all the 'doom and gloom' that was forecasted to happen by the so called experts from the ATC's getting fired. It seems to me that this administration is trying to rely on peoples fear to get what they want. If this doesn't get passed, this will happen to this group or that group. Sure the Republicans do it also. But, the Obama Administration is just better at it. I'm not saying everthing he has done is bad. But too keep playing the fear game is. Remember your history, "the only thing we have too fear, is fear it's self".