The FAA is reducing the hours of operation at 93 air traffic control towers to adapt the U.S. air transport system to the dramatic reduction in traffic caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The final list was confirmed yesterday for planned implementation on Monday, May 4.
The temporary reduction in operational hours is part of the FAA’s ‘Staffing to Traffic’ initiative, which has evaluated each of the country’s FAA towers to determine how the dramatic decrease in air traffic since the pandemic reached the U.S. is impacting demand on FAA resources.
On average, the total operational traffic count in the U.S. has declined 65% since the pandemic started.
The FAA says about 100 air traffic control towers have been identified for reduced hours and that the new hours of operation will maintain the integrity of the National Airspace System. “Making these adjustments allows for continued safe operations throughout the National Airspace System while minimising health risks to our workforce,” the FAA said in a statement.
FAA officials have already reached out to the airports that might be affected by the reduction in operational hours and are updating local congressional offices. NBAA and other leading aviation organisations have also been contacted by the FAA for industry input, and NBAA staff are coordinating with business aviation operators across the country to determine the potential impact of the reduced hours.
“NBAA thanks the FAA for working with us on this initiative to ensure that any temporary reduction in operational hours at air traffic control towers will have minimal or no impact on flight operations,” said NBAA director, air traffic services and infrastructure Heidi Williams. “NBAA will continue to work with the FAA to monitor air traffic demand and the ongoing operational impact, as well as to provide updates to members as they are available.”