Shreveport Downtown only La. tower set to close

MONROE (AP) — Shreveport’s Downtown Airport will see its control tower close sometime after April 7.

It was the only Louisiana airport tower among the 149 named for closure Friday by the Federal Aviation Administration. All the towers are staffed by contract employees.

The FAA specifically spared Lake Charles Chennault International Airport. Three other airports that had faced tower shutdowns — Lake Charles Regional Airport, Monroe Regional Airport and New Orleans Lakefront Airport — weren’t named and will apparently stay open for now.

The FAA is closing control towers as part of $637 million in mandated automatic federal budget cuts. Losing a tower doesn’t close an airport. But pilots who are landing and taking off must communicate with each other by radio instead of relying on controllers. The lack of a tower makes airports ineligible for military flights and could slow operations. Towers will shut down in phases over four weeks beginning April 7.

FAA said reasons for sparing towers included national security threats, economic impact beyond a local community, harm to multi-state transportation, communication or financial networks, or airports that relieve large commercial hubs.

The tower at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, the state’s busiest commercial hub, was never threatened.

Though some Louisiana towers got a reprieve Friday, local officials in Monroe are still worried.

Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo said the FAA is expected to make another round of cuts in September.

officials believe Monroe’s tower, if selected, wouldn’t close until Sept. 30 because it’s staffed by FAA employees.

“We’re going to continue to send letters, have conference calls and work with the business community to keep it open,” Mayo said. “We’re doing everything we can to state our case. It obviously would be a tremendous setback for our city and the region.”

If the Monroe tower closes, local traffic would be guided by controllers in Texas. Mayo and others fear if local traffic is handled remotely, commercial airlines might decrease or halt service in Monroe.

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