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Delays hit major US airports as furloughs start

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NEW YORK (PIX11) — Flight delays are predicted at New York and New Jersey airports and across the country Monday. And it’s only the beginning. Federal spending cuts are prompting the FAA to force air traffic controllers to take unpaid days off. This is expected to delay thousands of flights daily.

“New York State under the sequester will lose 60 to 80 air traffic controllers each day,” said New York Senator Chuck Schumer.

Senator Schumer urged Congress to stop the FAA furloughs that went into effect Sunday.

The sequester, a set of automatic spending cuts, started in March. And it is now taking a toll on air travel. The Department of Transportation has been forced to cut 1 billion dollars from its budget. More than 630 million dollars will come from the FAA.

When there are fewer air traffic controllers, fewer planes take off and runways even close.

“It’s like equating a tollbooth on the highway. If you have 10 tollbooths and you only open 8 of them, traffic is going to back up,” said air traffic controller Victor Santore.

“I travel every week so I guess it’s an added nuisance,” said flier Carlos Brunet.

The FAA predicts delays at local airports could range from 12 minutes to up to 80 minutes long.

“It’s just another thing that’s delaying travel and making traveling, the whole experience, more inconvenient,” said Christian Patry at Laguardia Airport Monday.

Fliers are urged to check with their airline before heading to the airport.