ST. PETERSBURG — After weeks of strong objections from congressional leaders, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced Friday that it will not close the air traffic control tower at Albert Whitted Airport.
It was one of 149 privately-run towers at small airports around the nation that were scheduled to be closed next month as a result of congressional spending cuts. The recently-passed Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013 will allow the Federal Aviation Administration to provide funds to end air traffic controller furloughs and keep the towers open until at least September.
The bill gave the FAA authority to shift $253 million from accounts with unspent funds to keep controllers on the job. The furloughs at all FAA-operated airport towers and air traffic control facilities caused widespread flight delays across the country for nearly a week before Congress stepped in.