WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Federal Aviation Administration said on Friday it will close 149 air traffic control towers beginning on April 7 to meet required automatic spending cuts.
Another 40 towers previously slated for closure will remain open, the agency said in a statement.
"We heard from communities across the country about the importance of their towers and these were very tough decisions," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. "Unfortunately we are faced with a series of difficult choices that we have to make to reach the required cuts under sequestration."
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said the agency would work with affected airports and operators to ensure procedures are in place to maintain a high level of safety.
In early March, the FAA proposed closing 189 contract air traffic control towers as part of its plan to meet the $637 million in cuts required under budget sequestration.
The agency said on Friday it had decided to keep 24 of the towers open because closing them would have a negative impact on the national interest.
Another 16 towers under a "cost-share" program were spared because the required 5 percent cut to that portion of the budget did not require the towers to be closed.
(Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Todd Eastham)
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