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FAA says it can keep small airports open

US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood during a press conference at Union Station in Washington, DC, October 4, 2012
US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood during a press conference at Union Station in Washington, DC, on October 4, 2012. The US Federal Aviation Administration said Friday it would be able to keep in service 149 small airport control towers and avoid w

The US Federal Aviation Administration said Friday it would be able to keep in service 149 small airport control towers and avoid worker furloughs after Congress reinstated funding lost in the "sequester" cuts.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement that the April 27 action by Congress to reverse the sudden, severe cuts for the aviation regulator would avoid service cuts that threatened to tie up airlines and airports heading into the summer vacation season.

The April 27 legislation "will allow the FAA to transfer sufficient funds to end employee furloughs and keep the 149 low-activity contract towers originally slated for closure in June open for the remainder of fiscal year 2013," LaHood said.

The legislation provides the FAA with some $253 million through October "to prevent reduced operations and staffing" as a result of the arbitrary cuts, which came about when lawmakers failed to reach a broad budget deal this year.

For the few days the cuts took place, there was a surge in complaints over flight delays and airport backups around the country as FAA staff were told to stay home for budget reasons.

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