LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Airport traffic control towers in Pacoima, Fullerton, Riverside and Ramona will remain open longer than expected, with the Federal Aviation Administration announcing today it was delaying the closures that were expected to begin this weekend as part of forced spending cuts under
The towers were expected to close beginning Sunday, with a tower in Lancaster scheduled to close April 21 and a tower in San Diego closing May 5.
The towers are located at Whiteman Airport in Pacoima, Fullerton Municipal Airport, Riverside Municipal Airport, Gen. William J. Fox Airfield in Lancaster, Brown Field in San Diego and Ramona Airport in San Diego County.
The Southland locations were among 149 federal contract towers nationwide that were expected to close within a four-week period.
But the FAA announced today it was postponing the closures of 149 towers across the country until June 15 to allow the agency to try to resolve legal challenges to some of the closures. Agency officials also noted that some airport authorities around the country have indicated they hope to fund tower operations themselves to prevent the closures, and the delay would help finalized those plans.
“This has been a complex process and we need to get this right,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. “Safety is our top priority. We will use this additional time to make sure communities and pilots understand the changes at their local airports.”
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted last month to oppose the planned closures at Whiteman Airport and Fox Airfield.
Whiteman is close to Burbank Airport and “Whiteman tower controllers coordinate many dozens of flights per day through Burbank airspace,” according to the supervisors’ motion.
Fox Airfield coordinates hundreds of flights during wildfire disasters and is the base for U.S. Forest Service tankers, supervisors said.
Jobs might also be lost as the result of closures, since the city of Lancaster is working to attract flight training and other commercial operators to Fox Airfield.
In early March, the FAA proposed to close nearly 200 towers — including the structure at Hawthorne Municipal Airport — as part of its plan to meet the $637 million in cuts required under budget sequestration.
However, the Hawthorne facility was saved after the FAA made the decision the closure would negatively impact the national interest.
Also on the saved list is Santa Monica Airport, which will be considered in a later round of cuts, according to the FAA.
The federal agency said it was targeting towers at airports with less than 150,000 takeoffs and landings and less than 10,000 commercial flights a year.