FAA backs off plans to eliminate overnight flight tower shifts

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The announcement was cheered by aviation groups on Wednesday.

“We applaud FAA for having listened to airports’ calls to end plans to close 72 FAA facilities for overnight operations," Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) President Greg Principato said in a statement.

"Although we are pleased by this news, ACI-NA remains deeply concerned about the unprecedented use of AIP [Airport Improvement Program] funding for FAA operations, as these funds were paid by passengers to maintain and enhance airport runways and taxiways," Principato continued. "Given that airports will be sacrificing needed capital improvements to keep the National Airspace System running this summer, it is critical for FAA to ensure every dollar of the $253 million is used directly on these critical operational priorities."

Principato pushed the FAA to go further and stop plans to close 149 air traffic towers where the agency contracts with private companies to monitor flights.

Lawmakers have also pushed the FAA to stop its plans to close the contracted flight towers, arguing that the law that was passed to end flight delays that were attributed to the sequester included enough money to keep them open.

The FAA has said that it is "reviewing" the legislation that was approved by Congress.

The agency argued before the bill was passed that its hands were tied by the sequestration law's requirement that federal agencies make equal cuts across their budgets.

Republicans argued that the agency was purposely making cuts in areas that would inconvenience airline passengers to win political points for President Obama.