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
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,
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
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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