Tampa Bay air traffic control towers face closure - WFLA News Channel 8

Tampa Bay air traffic control towers face closure

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LAKELAND, FL (WFLA) -

Due to sequestration cuts, the Federal Aviation Administration has a decision to make which small to medium airport control towers to close.

Losing over $600 million in funding, the agency released a list in February of almost 200 air traffic control towers nationwide that could potentially be closed. The tower managers had until last week to submit arguments to keep the towers opens.

The closures were supposed to be announced Monday. FAA officials said they were overwhelmed by responses from the airports on the list, that's why they postponed the final announcement till Friday March 22. 

Lakeland Linder in Lakeland and Albert Whitted in St. Petersburg are on the list to face a possible closure. Lakeland Linder's airport director Gene Conrad thinks this potential sequestration cut may become a safety threat.

"This is definitely a safety issue," he said. "Our analogy that we like to use is basically is you took a busy intersection in anybody's town and you pulled out the stop lights and you just had stop signs up, that's what we're dealing with."

Lakeland Linder hosts Sun-n-Fun Fly-in international fly-in and expo. Its air traffic control tower becomes one of the busiest ones in the country the first week of April.

If closed, the towers can be outsourced and operated independently but that would require large investments. The airport managers told us, they didn't have the money to do this.

The will learn Friday March 22 if these towers stay open.

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