Air Traffic Control Furloughs Trigger Delays At Airports

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — In Maryland and across the nation, airline passengers are bracing for the worst. Federal budget cuts hit the FAA and trigger big delays at airports. Some are already seeing three hour backups.

Kai Jackson explains how BWI is being affected.

A delay could occur in one city but then affect flights in Baltimore. That prospect has passengers worried.

The travel plans of millions of passengers across the country could be in jeopardy. The FAA says mandatory federal budget cuts are forcing the agency to furlough some 47,000 workers starting Monday, which some predict will cause massive delays in air travel.

The White House says the FAA has no choice.

“That’s why Secretary LaHood here in this room two months ago called on Congress to replace these dumb sequester cuts,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

Under the cuts, air traffic controllers will be furloughed one work day every other week.

The FAA says good weather and low volume has stopped the cuts from having much of an impact on passenger travel so far, but some believe it’s a matter of time.

“My daughter is getting on a plane right now and I want to make sure she’s safe,” said Lynn Cianflocco.

The FAA says it will work with airlines to minimize delays for travelers caused by lower staffing.

Some call the control tower furloughs a political move and accuse the White House of trying to scare the public.

Observers say there is a solution.

“They could change the sequestration language specifically for the FAA, to enable them to take money from other areas within the FAA and apply it to the air traffic controllers,” said former NTSB chairman Mark Rosenker.

The FAA predicts delays at the nation’s biggest airports could range from a few minutes to several hours.

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