Sequester Starts To Take Toll on Airlines

 - April 23, 2013, 4:02 PM
Automatic budget cuts have begun to affect airports across the U.S.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday announced a series of “traffic management initiatives” at airports and other facilities around the country as a result of employee furloughs due to the government’s automatic budget cuts known as sequestration. The agency warned travelers to expect a wide range of delays that will change throughout the day depending on staffing and weather. For example, the FAA cited staffing “challenges” at the New York and Los Angeles en route control centers and at the Dallas-Fort Worth and Las Vegas terminal radar approach control facilities (Tracons). Controllers have begun spacing airplanes farther apart so they can manage traffic with current staff, which will lead to delays at airports including Dallas/Fort Worth, Las Vegas and Los Angeles International. The FAA said it also expects delays at Newark International Airport in New Jersey and New York La Guardia because of weather and winds.

The agency attributed more than 1,200 system delays on Monday to staffing reductions from the furloughs. Another 1,400 delays occurred as a result of weather and other factors, it added.

The U.S. air transportation system began feeling the effects of the sequester cuts on Sunday, when airlines cancelled 207 flights and suffered 4,842 delays, according to Portland, Oregon-based flight data and tracking service FlightStats. On Monday, cancellations totaled 400 and delays totaled 6,997.

On Monday New York La Guardia led all U.S. airports in the proportion of flights delayed (52.67 percent), followed by Fort Lauderdale (48.84 percent), Orlando (47.29 percent), Tampa (43.04 percent), Denver (41.7 percent), Newark (41.34 percent), New York JFK (36.89 percent), Miami (32.26 percent), Charlotte, N.C. (31.2 percent) and Chicago Midway (28.67 percent).