WASHINGTON - The FAA on Friday announced it will close 149 regional airport control towers because of forced spending cuts, sparing 40 others, including the tower at Reading Regional Airport.
A four-week, phased closure of the 149 control towers, which include three in Pennsylvania, 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.
Critics worry shutting down the towers could impact safety, but the FAA said it will manage the system by reducing volume, not reducing safety.
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 said.
The three Pennsylvania airports on the list are Lancaster, Capital City Airport in Harrisburg, and Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe.
Allentown, PA 18102