The federal government says that with looming across-the-board budget cuts slated to hit next week, airline travelers should expect potential travel delays and cancelations.
Executive Vice President of the Airports Council International–North America Deborah McElroy says the challenge is in knowing how best to prepare. “Everyone is frustrated with the lack of specific information,” says McElroy. “Airports are looking at their contingency plans, but the difficulty is, I don’t know what I’m planning for.”
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says the “vast majority” of the 47,000 Federal Aviation Administration workers, including 14,740 air traffic controllers, will have a furlough day every two weeks, resulting in a 10% weekly workforce reduction. The number of planes accepted into the system will also be cut back, similar to the way the FAA does during bad weather.
Liberal activists are seizing on the news to underscore the need to maintain federal spending. Scott Lilly, a senior fellow at the liberal Center for American Progress, told USA Today that the delays and chaos will spur Congress to act. “I think all hell’s going to break loose when people find out how badly their lives have been screwed up, and Congress is going to put their tails between their legs and fix it,” said Lilly.
Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee say travelers will soon feel the pain of cutting federal spending; airport checkpoint lines will add one-hour delays, they say.