FAA to delay 149 airport tower closures until June

By Associated Press and NEWSChannel 2 Staff

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration is delaying the closing of 149 airport control towers until mid-June in order to deal with legal challenges.

The first 24 closures had been scheduled for Sunday, including the tower at Griffiss International Airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday the closures will be delayed until June 15. Trade groups representing companies that operate the towers under contract for FAA filed a lawsuit Thursday in federal court in Washington.

The agency says about 50 airport operators and communities have also indicated they may want to pay for operation of the towers themselves, and more time is needed to work out those details.

“While any delay in the closure of these towers is desirable, the rationale for this delay further highlights how reckless and ill-conceived the FAA’s decision was in the first place to seek out temporary cost savings for themselves at the expense of local communities," said Congressman Richard Hanna. "From their own statement, it’s clear that the FAA would like to force the responsibility of this important mission upon local municipalities, and I fundamentally object to such a proposal. I will continue to implore the FAA and Administrator Huerta to seek more responsible cost-saving measures and remove Griffiss from the closure list once and for all.”

FAA has previously said the closures are necessary to accommodate automatic spending cuts.

"This is a welcome delay," said Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente. "However, the FAA and the Department of Transportation should not turn this delay into a missed opportunity. I urge Mr. Huerta and the FAA to take a close look at the Control Tower at Griffiss...Secretary LaHood has said the top priority here is safety. Griffiss continues to be essential to this country's National Security. If security is the top priority then that should be reason alone to continue funding this tower. This is also a unique airport handling everything from jumbo jets to military aircraft to private corporate jets. A Control Tower is essential to the safety of everyone involved."

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