Washington, DC -- The FAA announced Friday they will delay the closure of 149 federal contract air traffic control towers at small airports until June 15.
By delaying the closure date, the FAA said they will be able to better resolve multiple legal challenges. The extension also provides them with more time to make changes to the National Airspace System.
The FAA initially said they would start shutting down towers during a four-week period beginning April 7, including Smith Reynolds Airport in Winston-Salem.
A news release from the FAA said, "That phased closure process will no longer occur. Instead, the FAA will stop funding all 149 towers on June 15 and will close the facilities unless the airports decide to continue operations as a non-federal contract tower."
Four more North Carolina airports in New Bern, Hickory, Kinston and Concord were also scheduled to close.
"This has been a complex process and we need to get this right," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a news release. "Safety is our top priority. We will use this additional time to make sure communities and pilots understand the changes at their local airports."
The FAA said in early March they planned to reduce expenditures by $637 million for the remainder of the 2013 Fiscal Year. Their decision was a result of the federal sequestration signed into law by President Obama earlier this year.