Two Tampa Bay area airport towers scheduled for closure in April due to federal sequester

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Two Tampa Bay area airport control towers are among 149 nationwide slated for tower closures on April 7 due to the federal budget cut known as the sequester.

Albert Whitted Airport in St. Petersburg and Lakeland Linder Regional Airport were named on the budgetary target list, which trims $637 million.

The airports will continue to function without tower control and pilots will have to coordinate take-offs and landings among themselves, which they are trained to do.

"We heard from communities across the country about the importance of their towers and these were very tough decisions," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a written statement. "Unfortunately we are faced with a series of difficult choices that we have to make to reach the required cuts under sequestration."

The original list contained 189 federal contract towers. Concerns over a 'negative impact on the national interest' and, in other cases, cost sharing, means 40 towers will remain in operation.

The tower closures will be phased over a four-week period.

"We will work with the airports and the operators to ensure the procedures are in place to maintain the high level of safety at non-towered airports," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

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