Flight delays 'likely' as FAA begins to furlough controllers
It looks like President Obama is going to get the mess in air travel that he predicted when the sequester began.
Travelers can expect U.S. flight delays starting Monday as air-traffic controllers take furloughs required under federal-sequester budget cuts, officials said.
"It will make flying on a normal day seem like you're flying in blizzard weather," Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaking at New York's LaGuardia Airport, said of the nation's most congested facilities on a normal day.
The furloughs, which began Sunday but didn't cause many delays because of light air travel, are tied to $85 billion in across-the-board cuts known as the sequester.
The Federal Aviation Administration told the nation's airlines last week some 6,700 flights a day, or nearly a third of all U.S. flights, could be delayed at 13 of the busiest U.S. airports.
The delays would come from planes being held on the ground before takeoff or slowed while en route to destinations, the FAA said.
The most-affected airports would likely be Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, Chicago O'Hare, Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, Kennedy International and LaGuardia in New York, and Los Angeles International, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta told reporters Friday.
Other likely affected airports were Charlotte (N.C.) Douglas, Chicago Midway, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood (Fla.), Miami, Philadelphia, San Diego and San Francisco, he said.
Delays at all the big airports likely will ripple to other airports, Huerta said.
Secretary LaHood claims a lack of flexibility in being able to spread the cuts to other programs not affecting air traffic control. If representatives start hearing it from their constituents, there may be an attempted fix.
Then again, the delays may not be as severe as the government figures. We'll just have to wait and see what pain will be involved and whether people get riled up because of it.
"Ray LaHood and his group will make it as hard as possible. They're going to want to take this right to the consumer and make the consumer feel as much pain as possible," says Mr. Boyd. "This is how you make a point.... This is frankly a political program."
The FAA does not even get a cut in its budget under sequester. Just a lower rate of increase.