April 28, 2013

Air traffic returning to normal, FAA says

All employee furloughs are suspended and regular staffing levels will resume by Sunday evening.

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The Federal Aviation Administration said that the U.S. air traffic system will resume normal operations by Sunday evening after lawmakers rushed a bill through Congress allowing the agency to withdraw furloughs of air traffic controllers and other workers.

The FAA said it has suspended all employee furloughs and that traffic facilities will begin returning to regular staffing levels over the next 24 hours. The furloughs were fallout from the $85 billion in automatic across-the-board spending cuts this spring.

They started to hit air traffic controllers this past week, causing flight delays that left thousands of travelers frustrated and furious. Planes were forced to take off and land less frequently, so as not to overload the remaining controllers on duty.

The FAA had no choice but to cut $637 million as its share of $85 billion in automatic government-wide spending cuts that must be achieved by the end of the federal budget year on Sept. 30.

Flight delays piled up across the country Sunday and Monday as the FAA kept planes on the ground because there weren't enough controllers to monitor busy air corridors. Cascading delays held up flights at some of nation's busiest airports, including New York, Baltimore and Washington. Delta Air Lines canceled about 90 flights Monday because of worries about delays. Just about every passenger was rebooked on another Delta flight within a couple hours. Air travel was smoother Tuesday.

The cuts were required under a law enacted two years ago as the government was approaching its debt limit. Democrats were in favor of raising the debt limit without strings attached so as not to provoke an economic crisis, but Republicans insisted on substantial cuts in exchange. The compromise was to require that every government "program, project and activity" -- with some exceptions, like Medicare -- be cut equally.

The FAA had reduced the work schedules of nearly all of its 47,000 employees by one day every two weeks, including 15,000 air traffic controllers.

 

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)