The FAA released guidance yesterday to the 149 airports whose contract towers are scheduled to close as a result of budget cuts that outlines the shutdown schedule and addresses what will happen to the tower structures and equipment. It also emphasizes that these towers could continue to operate with local funding, a measure to which 16 airports that were on the potential closure list have already committed.
According to the guidance, on April 7 the agency “will begin to cease funding for [the affected] 149 contract control towers in three phases,” with funds stopping for the lowest traffic facilities in the first phase and for the busier ones in the last phase. As such, federal funding will be cut off on April 7 for 24 contract towers, on April 21 for another 46 and on May 5 for the remaining 79.
Though federal funding will end, the FAA has left the door wide open for airport operators to fund the towers locally. “The airport operator has a choice: to operate as a non-towered airport…[or] to continue providing tower services as a non-federal control tower,” the FAA said. “[We are] prepared to discuss the continued use of buildings and equipment with airports for those who desire to continue providing tower services.”
But for those airport operators who opt to go non-towered, the FAA will begin disconnecting and removing equipment at these towers within 90 days after federal funding ends.