Sequester could cause widespread travel delays

Sequester could cause widespread travel delays

As the sequestration deadline looms over Washington, D.C., travel and aviation experts are growing concerned about its potential to disrupt air transportation. In all, the US government will be forced to cut budgets by $85 billion on March 1 due to the sequestration mandated by Congress. Among the government agencies affected are the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which faces budget cuts of more than $600 million for the rest of 2013.

The budget reductions will take a toll on the nation’s travel industry as early as April, when the FAA is said to be considering furloughing employees, closing air traffic control facilities, eliminating shifts, and reducing maintenance schedules for air traffic equipment. Any of these scenarios would pose a threat to air travel efficiency, from delays in the security line and waits on the tarmac to cancelled flights.

In a Feb 26 press conference at Washington, D.C.’s Reagan National Airport, representatives from the Air Line Pilots Association predicted that airlines would cancel flights as the demand for air traffic controllers exceeds supply. Travelers can rest assured that “safety will not be compromised; we will just have [fewer] flights,” said the ALPA representative.

Congressmen Jim Moran (D-VA) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA), along with Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), joined the press conference to speak out against the sequester and its effects on the state of the travel industry. Connolly warned that the effects could have long-term consequences, citing figures that indicate that “every hour delay at the nation’s five busiest airports costs the economy $116 million dollars.” The representatives asked Americans to continue to travel and purchase plane tickets, but to be proactive about the potential airport delays.

Photo: Virginia Congressmen Gerry Connolly and Jim Moran and Senator Tim Kaine joined aviation representatives from the Air Line Pilots Association for a press conference at DCA on the sequestration’s impact on air travel and safety. Via Gerry Connolly