The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday that it will close 149 air traffic control towers around the country – but Opa-locka Executive Airport’s is not among them.
That was welcome news to officials including Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi, who visited the FAA last week to keep Opa-locka’s new $12 million control tower open.
He has voiced safety concerns, as the flight path for planes departing Opa-locka takes them over residential neighborhoods in Miami Lakes.
The control tower at North Perry Airport in Pembroke Pines will close as part of the FAA’s sequester budget cuts, however.
The airport and a Broward County Aviation Department spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Opa-locka tower was one of 189 that the FAA proposed closing in early March. But it ended up being one of two dozen airport towers that the agency decided to keep open because they were deemed to be "in the national interest" and met criteria that included national security, economic and transportation considerations, the Miami-Dade Aviation Department said in a statement.
Another factor was the extent to which an airport that has a federal contract tower "is a critical diversionary airport to a large hub," the department said.
"As the reliever airport for Miami International Airport, the Opa-locka Executive tower handled more than 108,000 flight operations in 2012, including U.S. Coast Guard helicopter and jet aircraft, Miami-Dade Police and Fire-Rescue helicopters, corporate jet aircraft and private single-engine propeller aircraft," it said.