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Airport control towers to stay open

Airport towers stay open for now

BOISE, Idaho - Airports across the county that were scheduled to close their air control towers because of the sequestration will continue to operate, at least until the middle of June.

Congress said it would prevent the closure of 149 small airport towers, including the ones in Idaho Falls, Pocatello and Hailey.

The furloughs of air traffic controllers nationwide will also come to an end.

The towers were scheduled for possible closure as part of the country's $85 billion budget cuts to federal agencies. The towers may still have to close beginning June 15. Congress has created a framework that would allow the Department of Transportation to make changes, but so far there is no plan from the FAA or the department to reallocate funds to the control towers. It could still be left to individual airports and local governments to find the funding.

Idaho Falls Regional Airport Director Craig Davis said there needs to be concrete funding going toward contract towers.

"We do recognize that the tower provides that additional layer of safety that the airport needs to support the community, so we are committed to keeping the tower funded and open one way or the other," said Davis on Tuesday.

The FAA has given airport operators and communities where the airports are located until that date to plan a way to pay for air traffic control staff.

In addition, seventy-two airport control towers which were slated to close at night due to budget cuts will get to stay open.

Included in that announcement from the Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday is the Boise Airport.

In a cost-cutting move, the FAA implemented widespread controller furloughs last month.

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