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Albert Whitted control tower could close | News

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Albert Whitted control tower could close
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St. Petersburg, Florida -- The control towers at Albert Whitted in St. Petersburg and Lakeland Linder Regional in Lakeland may close because of sequestration.

The airports are on a list of 20 Florida airports that could see their towers close because of budget cuts said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

"It's a massive safety issue," Lakeland Linder Regional Airport Director Gene Conrad said of the potential closure.

"It's removing a layer of safety," added Albert Whitted Airport manager Rich Lesniak.

In a letter released by LaHood on Friday, he also said overnight control tower operations at five other Florida airports could cease because of budget cuts.

Experts warn sequestration could also lead to longer lines at airport security checkpoints, flight delays of up to 90 minutes during peak times at major airports and, in some cases, canceled flights.

Tampa International Airport Spokesperson Janet Zink said they are taking a wait and see approach to see what happens but she notes any changes won't happen overnight.

"If sequestration hits on March 1 it's not like the next day all of a sudden you're going to see a huge impact. It's something that will be gradual over time," Zink told 10 News.

Follow 10 News Reporter Preston Rudie on twitter @PrestonRudie

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