The Obama administration is delaying the closing of 149 airport control towers until mid-June in order to deal with legal challenges and safety reviews. The first 24 closures had been scheduled for Sunday, but the FAA said today that the date for all the closures has been pushed back until June 15. “This has been a complex process and we need to get this right," says transportation secretary Ray LaHood. “Safety is our top priority. We will use this additional time to make sure communities and pilots understand the changes at their local airports."
Trade groups representing companies that operate the towers filed a lawsuit yesterday in federal court in Washington. In addition, the agency says about 50 airport operators and communities have indicated they want to pay for operation of the towers themselves, and more time is needed to work out those details. The agency says the closures are necessary to accommodate $637 million in FAA spending cuts mandated by the sequester. (Read more FAA stories.)