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July 25, 2014

Closure of 2 Minn. air traffic control towers delayed

Two air traffic control towers marked for closure in Minnesota are among the 149 granted temporary reprieves Friday by the Federal Aviation Administration, The Associated Press reports.

The FAA officially announced the list of towers marked for closure last month, including the facilities at the St. Cloud Regional Airport and Anoka  County Airport in Blaine.

The St. Cloud Regional Airport’s air traffic control tower was set to close April 21, and Anoka County Airport’s tower would have closed May 5.

Friday’s reprieve puts off all closures to June 15.

St. Cloud Regional’s director, Bill Towle, says airports have discussed finding other ways of finding money to pay their controllers, The AP says.

When the towers permanently close, pilots will reportedly have to coordinate takeoffs and landings among themselves, using  a shared radio frequency with no help from ground controllers.

Pilots already have training to do this, but airport directors are reportedly concerned about how the closure will affect air safety, KARE reports.

The closures are part of the federal “sequester,” where automatic spending cuts went into effect in March.

Initially, the FAA was considering closing 240 air traffic control towers nationwide.