By now, you have probably heard about the automatic budget cuts--known as the sequester--that are scheduled to take effect on March 1.
As we stare down that fast-approaching deadline, it's important to know that sequestration will have a serious impact on the transportation services that are critical to the traveling public and the nation’s economy.
At DOT we will need to cut nearly a billion dollars, which will affect dozens of our programs. More than $600 million of those cuts will need to come from the Federal Aviation Administration – the agency that controls and manages our nation’s skies.
As a result of these cuts, the vast majority of the FAA’s nearly 47,000 employees will be furloughed for approximately one day per pay period until the end of the fiscal year. In some cases it could be as many as two furlough days per pay period.
In addition to the income those men and women will lose, the costs of sequestration will be felt far and wide in the form of delayed travel for air passengers, and disruptions to air cargo shipping.
Today, we are sharing more details with our unions and with industry so they can start planning for the serious impacts of sequestration.
Here is what these automatic cuts are going to mean for the traveling public:
- Safety is our top priority and we will only allow the amount of air traffic we can handle safely to take off and land – which means travelers should expect delays.
- Flights to major cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco could experience delays of up to 90 minutes during peak hours because we will have fewer controllers on staff.
- Delays in those major airports will ripple across the country.
- Cuts to budgets mean preventative maintenance and quick repair of runway equipment might not be possible which could lead to more delays.
Once the airlines see what the potential impacts of these furloughs will be, we expect that they will change their schedules and cancel flights.
We're also beginning discussions with our unions to eliminate midnight shifts in over 60 towers across the country.
These closures are a serious matter.
They will impact services for commercial, general aviation, and military aircraft. They will delay travelers and delay the critical goods and services that communities around the country need. They are harmful cuts with real world consequences that will cost jobs and hurt our economy.
The President has put forward a solution to avoid these cuts; now we need Congress to come together to work on a long-term, balanced solution to our deficit challenges.