The control towers at four Arizona regional airports will close starting next month due to federal spending cuts, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Friday.
The FAA is closing a total of 149 air traffic control towers at regional airports nationwide. The FAA will conduct a four-week phased closure beginning April 7.
“We heard from communities across the country about the importance of their towers and these were very tough decisions,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a prepared statement. “Unfortunately we are faced with a series of difficult choices that we have to make to reach the required cuts under sequestration.”
The Arizona airports affected are Glendale Municipal Airport, Phoenix Goodyear Airport, Laughlin/Bullhead International and Ryan Field in Tucson.
All of the affected airports will still be open and operational. They will just have unmanned control towers.
The City of Phoenix is looking into other options to continue tower operations as a result of the FAA's decision, said Julie Rodriguez, spokesperson for Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The Phoenix Goodyear Airport will continue to operate with pilot-to-pilot communication.
The City of Goodyear said in a statement, "We are very disappointed that the Phoenix-Goodyear Airport was on the FAA’s list of airport control tower closures. With the airport’s proximity to Luke Air Force Base and the fact that it handles the largest number of take-offs and landings of any tower on the list, we were hopeful that we would be spared from budget cuts."
Glendale spokesperson Jennifer Stein said Glendale Municipal Airport will remain open and operational. The city is still evaluating the impact the FAA decision will have on the airport. They encourage pilots to continue to use the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF), which lets pilots communicate with one another on take-offs and landings.
“We will work with the airports and the operators to ensure the procedures are in place to maintain the high level of safety at non-towered airports,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.
In March, the FAA originally proposed to close 189 contract air traffic control towers to meet the $637 million in cuts under the federal budget sequestration, but decided to keep some open if they met certain national interest requirements.
The FAA decided that 24 federal contract towers would remain open because they met those national interests.
Local communities have the option to participate in the FAA's non-federal tower program, which means that the airport would assume the cost to continue to staff on-site air traffic control services.
See the full list at the FAA website .
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