Lawsuit an option to keep control towers open

4:57 PM, Mar 28, 2013   |    comments
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An air control tower at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport.



Lakeland, Florida -- The head of both the Lakeland and St. Petersburg airports told 10 News on Thursday that they have not ruled out joining others in suing the Federal Aviation Administration to try and keep their air traffic control towers from closing.

The FAA announced it's closing 149 contracted control towers in the coming weeks because of forced budget cuts. Lakeland Linder Regional Airport and Albert Whitted in St. Petersburg are included in that group of 149.

"As I understand a lot of airports are now starting to file litigation, so that's going be an avenue (we look at)," said Albert Whitted Airport Manager Richard Lesniak.

Gene Conrad, the Airport Director in Lakeland also didn't rule the possibility of litigation on Thursday.

"Obviously I'm not an attorney, I'm an airport director... but there's a lot of different words being thrown out there. But again, we're engaged with our legal council on what we may or may not do," Conrad said.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson met with a number of airport representatives from around the state in Lakeland on Thursday as they discussed the possible cuts which will hit three Florida airports on April 7.

Nelson blamed the cuts on partisan politics and said eliminating government waste could help keep the towers open.

Conrad added they will look at self-funding to keep their tower open if they lose FAA funding.

Currently the control towers at both Linder and Albert Whitted are scheduled to close on April 21.

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