Ramona Airport’s air traffic control tower will remain open at least for a few more months, according to an announcement by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Friday.
Scheduled to close June 15 due to spending cuts under sequestration, the Ramona control tower and 148 other low activity contract airport towers across the nation will remain open at least until Sept. 30, the end of the federal budget year.
U.S. Transportation secretary Ray LaHood stated that his department determined that the recently enacted Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013 will allow the FAA to transfer sufficient funds to end employee furloughs and keep the towers open for the remainder of the fiscal year. The bill allowed the FAA to shift up to $253 million from other accounts to prevent the furloughs.
County Supervisor Dianne Jacob was a vocal opponent of the Ramona control tower closure and urged politicians to keep it open, citing public safety issues, especially when firefighting aircraft fly in and out during wildfires.
“The decision to keep the Ramona Airport tower open for now is a step in the right direction, but the federal government needs to come up with a long-term budget fix. Closing the Ramona tower at the end of September would endanger our region when we need the air traffic facility the most,” she said in a prepared statement. “Many of San Diego County’s biggest and deadliest wildfires, including the 2003 and 2007 firestorms, have started in our backcountry in the fall.”