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FAA Budget Cuts Could Limit Airports Capacity To Handle Passengers

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Looming budget cuts to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) could drastically impact airline travel in our region. Lawmakers have the power to lessen the blow but they are running out of time.

Tim Williams has more on the technical term that sums up the problem.

For the FAA and transportation industry, it is a big word that sums up an even bigger problem: sequestration.

“Sequestration: the big budget cuts that are going to go through unless Congress stops it,” said Marion Blakey.

At stake: $1 billion in funding by Washington to the airline industry. A recent study by the most influential trade group in civil aviation outlines the issue.

Blakey is a former FAA administrator.

“It’s going to result in the loss of 132,000 jobs next year if this $1 billion cut to the FAA goes through and that’s just one part of the picture of sequestration,” Blakey said.

The cuts could close air traffic control towers and stop radar upgrades. They’d also limit cargo capacity and eliminate TSA screening positions. The cuts would mean between 37 and 73 million fewer passengers able to fly per year, stressing a system that many travelers say is already taxed enough.

“I think we had enough of the stress,” said traveler Alex Lee. “Enough is enough.”

Travelers like Jackie Weatherhead will find other ways.

“We wouldn’t want to fly as much, maybe. I don’t know. It would be easier to drive,” Weatherhead said.

Blakey says no airport would be exempt.

“It’s gotta affect Baltimore, unfortunately, just like it will a lot of airports around the country,” Blakey said.

If Congress does not act to repeal or delay the cuts, they’ll go into effect at the end of the year.

For more on the study done by the Aerospace Industries Association, click here.

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