The FAA said it won't need to close 149 towers at small airports this year after all, including the one at Riverside Municipal Airport. (Mark Boster, Los Angeles Times / March 21, 2013)

The 149 air traffic control towers that were slated to close this summer because of the federal sequestration will remain open until at least September, federal officials said Friday.

The Federal Aviation Administration said legislation approved by Congress last month lets it transfer funds from other accounts to keep the towers open until the end of the fiscal year.

The towers, run by contract workers, operate at small airports such as Oxnard Airport, Riverside Municipal Airport, Fullerton Municipal Airport, Whiteman Airport in Pacoima, Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville and Brown Field Municipal Airport in San Diego. 

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The FAA, which is required by the federal "sequester" to cut more than $600 million from its annual budget, had planned to close the towers in June.

The FAA announced last month that the same legislation freed up enough money to put an end to furloughs of air traffic controllers, which had led to flight delays at several major airports.

“This victory is thanks to a bipartisan coalition of senators and congressmen and -women who came together to demonstrate that there are more responsible ways to cut spending than by compromising safety,” said Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) a critic of earlier plans to shut the towers.

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