Budget cuts suffered by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) due to the federal sequester and resultant furloughs of staff may cause more severe flight delays at US airports in the coming days. The FAA warned on April 21, 2013 that there may be delays at New York’s John F. Kennedy and La Guardia airports due to staffing problems.
The furloughs, which require the agency to give its staff, including air traffic controllers, one day off for every 10 workdays, have already begun. The reduced staffing at air control towers is expected to cause maximum disruption at the country’s busiest airports followed by cascading delays at the destination airports of the delayed flights.
Although Airlines for America (A4A), the national trade organization representing the major US airlines, filed a legal action to prevent the FAA from implementing its personnel cuts through its “Capacity Reduction Plan,” a favorable decision would not be effective immediately.
Estimates for the potential the cutbacks could have on flights range from 3 to 4 hours, with an increase in the number of flights that will be cancelled. Currently, the effect is minimal, with an average delay of a little more than an hour on flights from the New York City airports, according to a report by CNNMoney. However, under the sequestration plan, 10 percent of the FAA’s workforce will be “furloughed” each day – and after only Day 2 of implementation, the full effects of the reductions have yet to be felt.
If you will be flying before this situation is resolved, be sure to check for updates / cancellations on your scheduled flights before leaving and be prepared to spend additional time in what could be very crowded airports.