BETHALTO, IL (KMOX) – The Federal Aviation Administration announced Friday that it would be closing 149 air traffic towers in order to meet $637 million in budget cuts required by sequestration.
The original list of threatened towers contained 189 contract towers but the Administration was able to stave off the closure of 40 of those, leaving a final list of 149.
St. Louis Regional Airport in Bethalto was among those on the final list. Airport Director Dave Miller told KMOX Thursday that he hoped the airport’s military work would be enough to keep their funding in place and their tower open.
“They are not interested in hearing anything about safety, or anything about how it impacts the local economy,” said Miller. “There’s a lot of military training that goes on here, even from Scott Air Force Base because of the different approaches we have.”
The FAA was to make a decision Monday on the final list was put that off until Friday because of the large number of reviews they received.
“You look at the other four salient airports in the Metro area and they’re pretty much all lined up against each other, against the prevailing winds.,” Miller explained. “On the other hand, this airport has a tangent line of flight.”
The FAA has not said when exactly the towers will be shut down but has indicated that it will not be immediate.