ST. PETERSBURG — Officials at Albert Whitted Airport got a reprieve Friday after the Federal Aviation Administration announced it was delaying the closure of 149 air traffic control towers around the country.
The closures, connected to cuts ordered under a process known as sequestration, were supposed to take place this month, some starting as soon as Sunday. Albert Whitted's tower was scheduled to close April 21.
But city officials were notified about 2 p.m. Friday that no FAA towers would close before June 15. The reason? After the closures were announced, some airports sued. "This additional time will allow the agency to attempt to resolve multiple legal challenges to the closure decisions," the FAA said in a statement.
Locally, pilots have balked at the idea that the busy downtown airport would be without air traffic controllers.
The city has not decided to participate in any of the lawsuits, but is monitoring them, according to Dave Metz, St. Petersburg's downtown facilities director.
The delay does not erase the uncertainly, however, Metz said.
If the Albert Whitted tower ultimately closes, at least seven people would lose their jobs.