Sacramento County officials expressed disappointment Friday with a federal government decision to close the control tower at Executive Airport.
The airport on Freeport Boulevard was listed Friday as one of 149 small airports that will lose their federally contracted air traffic control service as of April 7, a casualty of the government's so-called sequestration cutbacks.
The airport will remain open, however, local officials said.
"We are disappointed in the decision, but we have been working with our partners to minimize impact on operations," said Lisa Stanton, chief operating officer of the Sacramento County Airports System. "There are standard protocols in place to ensure that planes can take off and land safely without a tower, including the use of a pilot-controlled lighting system."
Sacramento Executive on Freeport Boulevard handles thousands of general aviation flights annually, and the tower already sometimes goes unmanned.
Stanton pointed out that McClellan, Rancho Murieta and Lincoln airports already operate without an air traffic control tower.
"It is too soon to tell whether there will be long-term consequences pending congressional action on a federal budget," Stanton said in a statement released Friday afternoon.
The Federal Aviation Administration announced the closures in a press statement, saying a congressional mandate requires it to cut nearly $600 million from its nearly $48 billion budget this fiscal year.
"Because the majority of its 47,000 employees are air traffic controllers, it is impossible to cut its budget without affecting controllers," the agency said in an online statement.
FAA officials have said they are contemplating limiting hours at FAA towers at larger airports, including Sacramento International, but a spokesman on Friday said the agency has not made any decisions on those yet.
Call The Bee's Tony Bizjak, (916) 321-1059. Follow him on Twitter @tonybizjak.
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