FAA Budget Impasse Forces 4,000 Layoffs

 - July 29, 2011, 5:10 AM

The failure of Congress to agree on an extension of the FAA’s operating authorization by July 23 forced the agency to furlough nearly 4,000 employees and issue stop-work orders on projects ranging from the construction of new towers to the rehabilitation and modernization of ATC facilities because the agency was no longer authorized to access the Airport and Airway Trust Fund. It wasn’t clear at press time when Congress would pass a 21st extension, as the legislature has been focused on talks to increase the debt limit to avert a potential U.S. credit default on August 2. Meanwhile, general aviation groups sent a joint letter to all members of Congress urging them to drop a proposal to charge a $25 “departure fee” on airline and GA flights in a long-term FAA reauthorization bill. Industry leaders argue that the current fuel excise tax system, not user fees, is the most efficient and effective way for GA to contribute to the aviation trust fund.