Some aviation experts say overnight shifts should have been eliminated regardless of the sequester at facilities that don't see enough traffic to justify the expense. The budget cuts being forced on the FAA could provide the agency with political cover to make some of those changes.
"There's a tendency over time to have Congress direct more money to small airports than would probably be economically justified," explained Robert Poole, an aviation analyst at the Reason Foundation think tank.
He said his own initial review of the list released Friday showed that many of the towers are at airports with few or no scheduled passenger flights, suggesting there will be little effect on airline service.
Rinaldi acknowledged that "just maybe there are some that don't warrant" air traffic control services.
"But I would bet the vast majority of them do," he said.
In Dallas' northern suburbs, local officials plan to put up the $315,000 needed to keep the tower open for the next six months at Collin County Regional Airport in McKinney, said airport Director Kenneth Wiegand.
That will drive the airport into a deeper operating deficit, but it is worth it to keep the dozens of Fortune 500 companies headquartered in the area happy and the local economy healthy, Wiegand explained.
"These businesses aren't going to fly a $70 million airplane into an airport that doesn't have positive control," he said. "They don't want to mix it up with the smaller aircraft."
In New Mexico, officials in the state capital of Santa Fe said they were concerned about the impact on tourism.
In just the past few years, the mountain community has won back commercial jet service. For now, Mayor David Coss remains optimistic the airlines will continue to fly in, adding that the city cannot afford to pick up the $60,000 a month cost of operating the tower without federal funds.
"None of them have indicated otherwise," he said. "Our airport manager has contacted all of them, and they have all said they didn't have any change in plans right now."