FAA: Smith Reynolds Airport control tower among 149 to close nationwide

Credit: W-S Journal

Credit: W-S Journal

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.

Coastal Carolina Regional in New Bern, Hickory Regional in Hickory, Smith-Reynolds in Winston-Salem, Kinston Regional in Kinston and Concord Regional in Concord are among the 149 control tower closures.

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.