By Miriam Raftery
March 22, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Today the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) confirmed closure of 149 air traffic control towers due to sequestration cuts that are mandated due to Congress failing to agree on how to balance the federal budget. That includes towers at Ramona Airport in East County and Brown Field in Otay Mesa, both slated to shut down starting April 7.
Closure of the Ramona facility had sparked widespread protests from local officials and the public, who had urged the FAA to keep the tower open to assure protection of firefighters at the backcountry airport.
Supervisor Dianne Jacob promptly blasted the decision to eliminate air traffic controllers in Ramona, where the air field is a key base of operations for aerial firefighting operations.
"I am deeply troubled by the FAA's decision to close down the Ramona air traffic control tower,” she said. “Clearly, this is a situation where the federal government can't get its budget act together and is failing to put public safety first.”
The FAA has indicated it targeted towers at airports with less than 150,000 takeoffs/landings and under 10,000 commercial flights annually.
"We heard from communities across the country about the importance of their towers and these were very tough decisions," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stated.