Santa Monica Airport Tower May Be Shut Down By Feds

Friday, 1 Mar 2013, 6:42:00 AM

Parimal M. Rohit

Santa Monica Airport's tower has been identified as a possible closure.
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Santa Monica Airport's tower has been identified as a possible closure.

With nearly $600 million in budget cuts pending due to

this week’s sequestration in Washington, D.C., the air traffic control tower at

Santa Monica Airport (SMO) may be shut down, according to a letter issued by

the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood issued a letter to an

FAA administrator stating at least 100 air traffic control towers at airports

with fewer than 150,000 annual flight operations or 10,000 annual commercial

operations would be closed.

A list of 241 airports across the country identified the

field of aviation venues targeted for possible tower closure; SMO was on the

list.

The FAA plans to reduce expenditures by about $600

million for the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year.

Beyond the tower closures, a “vast majority” of FAA’s

47,000 employees will face a furlough, with one to two forced days off per pay

period through September.

Midnight shifts at 60 towers nationwide are also expected

to be cut. Furloughs and facility shutdowns will begin as early as April.

Other towers in the Los Angeles metropolitan area named

on the FAA list for potential closure were located at airports in Camarillo, El

Monte, Fullerton, Hawthorne, Lancaster, Oxnard, Pacoima, Palmdale, Riverside,

and Victorville.

The potential cuts were made Feb. 22 with the looming

possibility of budget sequestration going into effect March 1.

SMO has become a lightning rod of an issue for residents

in Santa Monica and surrounding communities in light of the possibility that a

contract the City of Santa Monica has with FAA to operate the airport is set to

expire June 30, 2015. There have been some news reports that have indicated the

FAA believes its agreement with City Hall, which was entered into in 1984, has

been extended through 2023.

Last year, City Hall approved as part of its Biennial

Budget nearly $3 million in capital improvement projects to take place at SMO,

including airfield pavement rehabilitation, airfield lighting repairs, and

building maintenance.

Follow The Mirror

next week for an update on whether the budget cuts were made and if the tower

at SMO is headed for closure.

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