St. Pete's Air Traffic Control Ordered to Close
Albert Whitted is among 149 small airports nationwide losing air traffic control towers because of federal spending cuts.
Albert Whitted Airport's air traffic control tower will be forced to shut down permanently by May, a casualty of sequester cuts.
The downtown St. Petersburg airport is among 149 small airports that will lose their control towers, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Friday, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The closures will start April 7 and be completed over four weeks.
The FAA decision had been expected on Monday, March 18, but had been delayed so the agency could review last-minute appeals by airport operators.
Twenty-four towers at small airports were spared but Albert Whitted was not among them.
Those towers were considered important to preserving the safety and security of the national airspace, according to The Wall Street Journal. (See final list of airports losing control towers attached to this story.)
The Wall Street Journal said that some cities and towns may choose to pay for the services of air traffic controllers on their own. It is unclear whether St. Petersburg officials will consider funding an air traffic control operator.
All the airports that will close their towers have fewer than 10,000 commercial arrival and departures a year. St. Pete's airport is largely served by private pilots.
Pilots will have to rely on their planes navigational equipment without the help of air traffic control monitoring flights taking off and landing at the waterfront airport.