The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has decided to keep midnight shifts at 72 airport towers and air traffic control facilities, after saying in February that it would eliminate them in a move to slash its budget.
"The FAA has decided not to pursue the elimination of midnight shifts at FAA towers at this time," says the agency, without elaborating.
The 72 facilities comprise 69 airport towers, two terminal radar approach control (TRACON) facilities and one combination tower-TRACON facility. The airport towers include those at Jacksonville, Florida; Chicago Midway, Illinois; Atlantic City, New Jersey; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Nashville, Tennessee; and Austin, Texas among others.
The FAA announced in February that it could eliminate midnight shifts at the 72 facilities as part of the sequester to cut federal budget spending through the current fiscal year ending 30 September.
It also said then it would close 149 contract air traffic control towers, a decision that was met with resistance from smaller airports and communities. The agency said in April it would delay the end of funding for these towers to 15 June from the original 7 April deadline.
Airport authorities whose towers are affected can choose to operate as a non-towered airport or fund the tower operations themselves.