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Airports, including LAX, see fewer air traffic controllers due to FAA furloughs

April 21, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Starting Sunday, there will be fewer air traffic controllers at Los Angeles International Airport to handle arrivals and departures for the next five months.

Eleven certified air traffic controllers at LAX are expected to be cut to just eight up in the tower.

The Federal Aviation Administration's 47,000 employees are being furloughed starting Sunday two days a month, which amounts to a 10-percent pay cut per month. For you, the passenger, the furloughs could add to travel time.

"I fly so often, so definitely going to affect my schedule," said traveler Frank Ligvani.

Across-the-board spending cuts approved by Congress have forced the FAA to trim $637 million from its budget. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta say they have no choice but to furlough workers. Federal officials estimate maximum delays at LAX could reach 67 minutes.

In Atlanta, the worst case scenario is an estimated delay of 210 minutes. At Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, it could be over two hours. At New York's LaGuardia Airport, the delay could reach up to 80 minutes.

For frequent travelers, the furloughs will likely lengthen their trips. Jay Fales-Corning commutes from New York to Australia every 28 days.

"Already, I'm 20-some-odd hours in the air. Man, that's going to suck. That's going to add a lot of time, cut off on time that I get to spend with the family," he said.

In response to the FAA furloughs, American Airlines issued a statement saying in part:

"Unfortunately, the FAA has not yet provided specific details, making it difficult to communicate exactly how customers will be affected. However, we will make every effort to communicate with our customers as information becomes available."

Airlines for America, which represents domestic carriers, has filed a lawsuit to try to stop the furloughs. It estimates that one in three passengers and as many as 6,700 flights a day will be impacted.


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