FAA towers to close at Trenton and 3 Pa. airports

In this March 9, 2010 photo, an American Eagle flight waits for release from the air traffic control tower at Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington, Ill. Under orders to trim hundreds of millions of dollars from its budget, the Federal Aviation Administration released a final list Friday, March 22, 2013, of 149 air traffic control facilities that it will close at small airports around the country starting early next month. The tower at Central Illinois Regional was included on that list. (AP Photo/The Pantagraph, Steve Smedley)
In this March 9, 2010 photo, an American Eagle flight waits for release from the air traffic control tower at Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington, Ill. Under orders to trim hundreds of millions of dollars from its budget, the Federal Aviation Administration released a final list Friday, March 22, 2013, of 149 air traffic control facilities that it will close at small airports around the country starting early next month. The tower at Central Illinois Regional was included on that list. (AP Photo/The Pantagraph, Steve Smedley) (Steve Smedley)
Posted: March 22, 2013

The Federal Aviation Administration released a final list Friday of 149 air traffic control towers that will close beginning April 7 due to federal budget cuts at small airports nationwide.

The closures, including at Trenton-Mercer Airport and in Harrisburg, Latrobe, and Lancaster, will not shut down the airports because pilots are trained to land and takeoff by communicating on a common radio frequency without ground controllers.

Frontier Airlines flies from Trenton to four Florida cities and New Orleans.

Despite the cutbacks, Trenton Mercer Airport will continue to operate, and Frontier will continue to fly, said Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes.

"We are disappointed, but this does not impact us operating service from the Trenton airport," Frontier spokeswoman Kate O'Malley said. "In fact, the day after the tower closes, on April 8, we are expanding service to five additional destinations: Atlanta; Chicago Midway; Columbus, Oh.; Detroit and Raleigh-Durham, N.C."

In inclement weather, Frontier may divert flights to another airport, O'Malley said. "In good weather, we will have normal operations."

Hughes said implications of the FAA's decision "are many, ranging from the safety of our airspace to the possible detrimental impact to our economy." He asked the FAA to reconsider, citing Trenton's location in the heavily traveled Northeast, its roster of Fortune 50 tenants which rely on air traffic control for their operations, and the impact of a tower closure on the corporate economy and visiting foreign dignitaries and officials who access the New York metro area from Trenton.

The FAA decided to keep open 24 towers previously slated for closure because doing so "would have a negative impact on the national interest," the agency said.

The FAA said it had no choice but to reduce work hours of a majority of its 47,000 employees, and close air traffic facilities at small airports to trim $637 million due to the spending cuts, known as sequestration.

Other small airport towers that will close include Ithaca, N.Y.; Stillwater, OK.; Jackson, Tn.; Tyler, Tex.; Ogden, Utah; Tacoma, Wash., and Oshkosh, Wis.

The FAA has proposed closing control towers at Northeast Philadelphia Airport, which has no commercial flights, and in New Castle, Del. and Essex County, N.J. The agency said it could take a year to negotiate terms with the national air traffic controllers union.


Contact staff writer Linda Loyd at 215-854-2831 or lloyd@phillynews.com.

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