CNN reports that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is set to begin furloughs on Monday that could spell delays ranging from 10 minutes to as long as three and a half hours, depending on the airport and time of day. Due to the sequestration budget cuts, the Department of Transportation must cut $1 billion from its budget.
"We have done everything (possible) to find a billion dollars, and if we had our way we probably wouldn't be sitting here," Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood told CNN. "This is very painful. This is not what we signed up for. This is a dumb idea. Sequester is a dumb idea. Not one person in America would use the sequester to figure out their budget. It's a meat-ax approach."
Delay predictions are based on the FAA’s analysis of traffic patterns at 13 airports on March 29, 2013. Projected delays for major airports are as follows:
Newark Liberty: Average, 20.5 minutes; Maximum, 51 minutes
New York City JFK: Average, 12 minutes; Maximum, 50 minutes
New York City LaGuardia: Average 30.5 minutes; Maximum, 80 minutes
Chicago O’Hare: Average 50.4 minutes; Maximum, 132 minutes
Los Angeles International: Average, 10.1 minutes; Maximum, 67 minutes
Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson: Average, 11.3 minutes; Maximum, 210 minutes
Travel industry groups such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have criticized the impact of the cuts, arguing that travel delays would deal damage to the overall economy.
"It is unlikely that the savings that will be achieved from sequestration will offset the damage to the economy if air travel is discouraged by these cutbacks,” said Tony Tyler, director general and CEO of the IATA. “Aviation is an important catalyst for economic growth and prosperity. The cost of the shocks, uncertainty and unpleasant surprises can only hamper efforts to revive the economy. The government’s priority should be on extracting the greatest economic benefit possible from aviation—not making it more difficult to do business.”
Sequestration cuts have already resulted in travel delays for the cruise industry, as cuts caused delays for several cruise ships at the Port Everglades, FL, cruise terminal at the start of April.
Sequester cuts have also raised the possibility of closing 149 air traffic control towers under the Contract Tower program, although the FAA has extended the deadline for these cuts until June 15.
Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for further updates to this developing story.