The Federal Aviation Administration is delaying the closure of 149 air traffic control towers, including 12 in New England, until June 15 while it deals with legal challenges and proposed changes.
The agency last month said it would cut off funding for the towers starting April 7 as part of $637 million in budget cuts required under federal spending reductions known as sequestration.
Several airports and the US Contract Tower Association—an affiliate of the American Association of Airport Executives—have filed lawsuits over the closures. In addition, about 50 airport authorities have said they may join the FAA’s nonfederal contract tower program, meaning they would pay for operations themselves to keep the towers open.
All the small and midsize towers scheduled to shut down, including five in Massachusetts—Beverly, New Bedford, Lawrence, Worcester, and Norwood—six in Connecticut, and one in New Hampshire, are federal contract towers, meaning employees operate under FAA standards but are not employees of the agency.
The extension would also give the FAA time to help make this transition and implement changes to the system, officials said.
Katie Johnston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @ktkjohnston.