A day after flight delays plagued much of the U.S., air travel is smoother Tuesday. But the government is warning passengers that the situation can change by the hour as it runs the nation's air traffic control system with a smaller staff.
Airlines and members of Congress urged the Federal Aviation Administration to find other ways to make mandatory budget cuts besides furloughing controllers. While delays haven't been terrible yet, the airlines are worried about the long-term impact late flights will have on their budgets and on fliers.
The FAA released the following statement Tuesday:
As a result of employee furloughs due to sequestration, the FAA is implementing traffic management initiatives at airports and facilities around the country. Travelers can expect to see a wide range of delays that will change throughout the day depending on staffing and weather related issues. For example, the FAA is experiencing staffing challenges at the New York and Los Angeles En Route Centers and at the Dallas-Ft. Worth and Las Vegas TRACONs. Controllers will space planes farther apart so they can manage traffic with current staff, which will lead to delays at airports including DFW, Las Vegas and LAX. The FAA also expects delays at Newark and LaGuardia because of weather and winds.
The FAA will continue to work with the airlines throughout the day to try and minimize delays for travelers. We encourage all travelers to check their flight status and also to visit fly.faa.gov for the latest airport delay information.
Yesterday more than 1,200 delays in the system were attributable to staffing reductions resulting from the furlough. There were more than 1,400 additional delays as a result of weather and other factors.
US Airways CEO Doug Parker said he doesn't believe the furloughs can be tolerated for long.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood pointed the finger at Congress, which forced government agencies to cut spending after failing to reach a deficit-reduction plan.