Three W.Va. control towers could close

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Air traffic control towers at three West Virginia airports are on a list of 149 across the country set to close starting April 7.


The Charleston Gazette reports that the list issued Friday by the Federal Aviation Administration includes contract towers at airports in Lewisburg, Parkersburg and Wheeling.


Earlier this month, the FAA announced that 189 contract control towers nationwide were being proposed for closure to help achieve the 5 percent reduction in spending called for in the federal budget sequestration process. After reviewing the proposal, the FAA decided to keep 24 of the towers open. An additional 16 towers operating under a special congressionally mandated cost-share program will remain open, but their host airports will make 5 percent spending cuts through other methods.


Susan Cherneko, director of the state Aeronautics Commission, said Friday’s announcement does not necessarily mean the end of commercial air service at Lewisburg’s Greenbrier Valley Airport and Mid-Ohio Regional Airport, serving Parkersburg. She noted that the Beckley airport doesn’t have a tower but still has commercial air service, with pilots using controllers from another airport.


Cherneko said the Parkersburg and Wheeling airports host West Virginia Air National Guard units, and Wheeling also hosts training flights for C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft under a U.S. Air Force contract.


“The state and our congressional delegation will work with the three airports, the airlines and the military to keep their operations viable,” Chernenko said. “There is no reason why all three airports won’t remain open.”


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