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Chennault air traffic control tower will remain open

Last Modified: Friday, March 22, 2013 11:31 PM

By Johnathan Manning / American Press

The air traffic control tower at Chennault International Airport will remain open.

The tower was not on the list of 149 federal contract towers listed for closure by the Federal Aviation Administration on Friday.

“Normal tower operations will continue without interruption,” Chennault Executive Director Randy Robb said in a news release. “We’re pleased by the decision, because Chennault handles a tremendous volume of military and civilian aircraft that otherwise would have been unable to land at an uncontrolled tower.”

The air traffic tower closures are part of cuts that stem from sequestration. The FAA announced in February it planned to cut spending by more than $600 million for the rest of the fiscal year.

The FAA originally planned to shut down 189 towers nationwide, but decided to keep 24 open “because doing so would have a negative impact on national interest,” according to a news release from the agency. Sixteen others will remain open with congressional dollars.

Earlier this month, the Chennault International Airport Authority announced contingency plans to keep the tower open using an unbudgeted $350,000-$500,000, because military aircraft require a manned tower to use an airstrip.

The FAA said national interests considered included:

Threats to national security.

Economic impact beyond that on a local community.

Impact on multi-state transportation, communication, or banking and financial networks.

The extent an airport is a critical diversionary airport to a large hub.

The tower at Shreveport Downtown Airport was the only state tower on the closure list.

The list of towers did not pertain to Lake Charles Regional Airport, because the list only included those manned by contract labor, said Heath Allen, airport director. He said closures of FAA towers will be announced at a later date.

“We’re cautiously optimistic that we’re going to be saved,” Allen said.

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