The Federal Aviation Administration on Friday announced the closure of control towers at 149 smaller airports, including two in the Twin Cities and St. Cloud that serve private and corporate planes.
The closure of the towers at Anoka County-Blaine Airport and St. Cloud Regional Airport in early April will leave those facilities open but require pilots to assume more responsibilities for landings and take-offs.
The closures stem from an unresolved budget battle between President Obama and Congress that triggered cuts in federal spending, including $600 million by the FAA.
“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.
Minnesota airport officials say they expect the loss of air traffic controllers to prompt some business jets to move from the Anoka airport to Minneapolis-St. Paul, potentially causing delays.
While officials downplayed safety concerns, St. Cloud airport manager Bill Towle said, “It’s certainly beneficial to have another set of eyes out there.”