The Federal Aviation Administration furlough of air-traffic controllers caused by the sequester could cause airport delays and the air traffic controllers union is threatening to make it hurt, according to the Wall Street Journal:
“We’re working together to make sure safety is not going to be affected, but unfortunately, you might want to buy ‘War and Peace’ before you get on your next flight,” said Miami controller Jim Marinitti, a representative of the National Air-Traffic Controllers Association, the union representing all FAA controllers.
Airlines are now questioning the FAA’s authority to make the cuts:
The airline industry’s leading trade group, Airlines for America, has sent a legal memo to federal officials arguing that the FAA can make the cuts without major furloughs. Representatives of several major airlines said they back the trade group’s position, but declined to comment further. Two airline officials, who wouldn’t be named, said in interviews they think the FAA is making fliers political pawns, as the Obama administration looks to use public backlash over flight delays to force Republicans into a budget deal.
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in a statement that “we are working to both ensure the safety of the traveling public and have the least impact possible on the largest number of people.” He added, sequester law “leaves us with no other equitable option than to furlough our air-traffic controllers.”
Air-traffic controllers are warning that the furloughs could force them to reduce the rate of flights arriving at big airports like Chicago’s O’Hare International and Miami International by a third to a half during peak periods or bad weather. Roughly 40% of U.S. flights take off from just 10 cities.
The FAA has stopped hiring and is requiring all 47,000 agency employees to take one out of every 10 work days off without pay.