The nation’s air traffic controllers can’t hang out a “closed for the day” sign, so starting April 21 travelers will start to see the impact of furloughed staff.
Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Michael Huerta testified April 18 that all of the agency’s 47,000 employees, many of them air traffic controllers, will be furloughed. Between April 21 and Sept. 30, each employee will be forced to take 11 days off without pay, leaving control towers short staffed.
That means many snowbirds heading back north, business executives headed to meetings and families going to visit grandma could be left waiting at the gate. And waiting. Or taking the long way on their flights to avoid areas with manpower shortages.
USA Today reports on the areas most affected:
“The worst delays, which will ebb and flow with daily traffic, are expected at 13 hubs: JFK, LaGuardia and Newark in the New York area; Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco in California; O’Hare and Midway in Chicago; Miami and Fort Lauderdale in Florida; Atlanta; Philadelphia and Charlotte…..
“The worst delays could be 210 minutes for flights headed to Atlanta, 132 minutes for flights to O’Hare and 80 minutes to LaGuardia, Huerta said. A whole runway could be taken out of action at Atlanta or O’Hare for lack of staffing, he said.”
The furloughs are part of the budget cut called a sequester that began rolling into effect March 1 after Congress and the White House couldn’t agree on any other way to ease the federal deficit.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood blamed Congress, the New York Times reported:
“This is a dumb idea. Sequestration is a dumb idea. Not one person in America would use sequester to figure out what to do with their budgets.”
Now passengers will be left to figure how to use their extra hours waiting around airports. Bring something to read.
Photo: Kierano via Wikimedia
Also of Interest
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- Public Transportation: Lifeline for Older Adults in Rural America
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