Business, Economics and Jobs

Expect sequestration to make air travel even less pleasant


(L-R) Office of Management and Budget Federal Controller Danny Werfel, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter testify before the Senate Appropriations Committee about the potential impacts of "the sequester" during a hearing on Feb. 14, 2013, in Washington, DC.


Chip Somodevilla

The automatic spending cuts mandated by the sequestration are set to take effect next week, and the Federal Aviation Administration is preparing to cut about $600 million in expenditures for the remainder of fiscal year 2013.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta laid out the plans to do that in a letter today.

It's bad news for FAA employees, as well as travelers.

Changes in consideration include:

- Eliminating midnight shifts in 60 airport control towers around the country.

- Closing more than 100 control towers at airports with fewer than 10,000 annual commercial operations.

- Furloughing the vast majority of the 47,000 FAA employees for one day per pay period, through September.

Reductions in equipment maintenance and having fewer air traffic controllers on staff will likely lead to delays, LaHood and Huerta warn:

- Flights to major cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco could experience delays of up to 90 minutes during peak hours.

- We also expect that as airlines estimate the potential impacts of these furloughs. they will change their schedules and cancel flights.

None of the plans are set in stone yet, and the sequestration could be avoided. But the more likely outcome is that the cuts will go into effect, and air travel will become even less pleasant than it already is.

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