By CNN Staff
WASHINGTON (CNN) — The FAA on Friday announced it will close 149 regional airport control towers because of forced spending cuts — sparing 40 others that the FAA had been expected to shutter.
A four-week, phased closure of the 149 control towers will begin on April 7, the FAA said.
The FAA had been expected to announce the closure of 189 low- or moderate-volume towers staffed by contractors. Before Friday’s announcement, it said it would consider keeping a tower open if the airport convinces the agency it is in the “national interest” to do so.
By congressional mandate, the FAA must cut nearly $600 million from its nearly $48 billion budget this fiscal year. Because the majority of its 47,000 employees are air traffic controllers, it is impossible to cut its budget without affecting controllers, the agency says.
CNN’s Mike Ahlers and Rene Marsh contributed to this report.