POSTED: Sunday, March 24, 2013 - 11:00pm
UPDATED: Sunday, March 24, 2013 - 11:04pm
WASHINGTON (CNN) — The FAA on March 22 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.
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.