FAA: Towers Stay Open Until November

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The 149 federal contract air traffic control towers previously targeted for closure beginning June 15 will remain open through Sept. 30 the FAA said Friday, as other programs also found funding. The Department of Transportation said Friday it would fund air traffic technology and maintenance programs with $21 million by moving funds within its budget. The FAA was required by sequestration to cut $637 million from its budget. As drafted, the agency was granted little latitude in how it applied the cuts. That changed when controller furloughs correlated with commercial flight delays, and more changes soon followed. 

On April 26, a new law adjusted sequestration cuts, specifically for the FAA, allowing the agency to shift money within its own accounts. The following day, the FAA announced it would end furloughs. Now, other services may be affected by the cuts while some that had originally been targeted may be spared. The agency said Wednesday that it would reverse its plan to shut down night operations at 69 towers, two regional approach control facilities and one tower that also provided approach control services. And on May 2, the FAA said it would not move ahead with plans to eliminate airport weather observers -- the original March 15 plan would have started shifting the task to air traffic controllers this month.