MIAMI - The Federal Aviation Administration announced Friday which federal contract air control towers it's closing beginning April 7 as a result of automatic spending cuts imposed by the federal government.
The FAA is closing 149 control towers, 14 towers of which are in Florida, including ones at North Perry General Aviation Airport in Hollywood and Boca Raton Airport. It's keeping the tower at Opa-locka Executive Airport open.
"I just didn't believe the FAA is going to go for it in spite of everything we've done so far to keep these guys working," said Ami Hendel with Hollywood Flight Training. "We have nine flight schools here. Try to imagine a student on a solo deciding to enter the wrong runway."
"We just found out a few minutes ago we lost our job," said Tony Saavedra, an air traffic controller at North Perry.
According to the FAA, North Perry is the ninth busiest contract tower; Opa-locka's is the 20th busiest.
Saavedra said Opa-locka has larger runways, allowing it to handle more of Miami International Airport's flight traffic.
As the reliever airport for Miami International Airport, the Opa-locka Executive tower handled more than 108,000 flight operations in 2012, including U.S. Coast Guard helicopter and jet aircraft, Miami-Dade Police and Fire-Rescue helicopters, corporate jet aircraft and private single-engine propeller aircraft, according to Miami-Dade County.
"We heard from communities across the country about the importance of their towers and these were very tough decisions," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "Unfortunately we are faced with a series of difficult choices that we have to make to reach the required cuts under sequestration."
"We will work with the airports and the operators to ensure the procedures are in place to maintain the high level of safety at non-towered airports," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.
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