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Sequester could close towers at five state airports, LaHood says

Five regional and local airports could see their control towers close on April 1 if across-the-board spending cuts take effect next week Friday, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Friday.

Hagerstown Regional Airport and Salisbury-Ocean City Wicomico Regional Airport, which handle a small number of commercial flights, and Martin State Airport, Frederick Municipal Airport and Easton/Newnam Field would all be affected by the cuts.

LaHood said the sequester would chop more than $600 million from the Federal Aviation Administration budget, forcing mandatory furloughs for nearly 47,000 air transportation employees and the closure of more than 100 air traffic control towers nationwide.

The aviation assessment was requested by Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski, chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. "Sequester will cripple air transportation, causing ripple effects across the economy and costing us jobs we can't afford to lose," the senator said in a statement. "These are real impacts in real communities with real consequences."

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