New York (PIX11) — Boards across the country’s airports are lighting up with those dreaded words, delayed and unfortunately most of the time it’s not just a matter of 30 minutes. Instead, delays of three to four hours are being reported. The headaches are all thanks to to our nation’s air traffic controllers and thousands of other Federal Aviation Administration employees being forced to take unpaid time off after federal cuts of billions of dollars impacted the FAA’s budget, otherwise known as sequestration.
Stephan Abraham, President of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association at JFK said, “We’re frustrated. It’s no fun being the political football and that’s how we feel.”
An already lean group, the number of air traffic controllers will be cut nationwide daily by 10 percent until the end of September and the impact is already being felt. Websites like FlightStats monitored these developments and broke down cancellations and delays for individual airlines, airports and detailed if it’s departing or arrival flights most often affected. Additionally it seems passengers caught in the middle of the mess have little recourse. While recent legislation protects against tarmac delays, there isn’t much else.
Meanwhile, in Washington the blame game already started with some lawmakers accusing the FAA for “manufacturing a crisis,” while others have stepped up to refresh their memories.
“It is mystifying to me that some are surprised by these delays or blame FAA for congress’ failure. On February 11, the Department of Transportation told congress that given the magnitude of budget cuts to the FAA “it will be impossible to avoid significant employee furloughs,” said New York Representative Nita Lowey.