All flights could be delayed 30 min because of sequester

Air travel is quickly becoming yet another victim of the sequester.

Air Traffic Controllers are looking at 10 percent cut in the house they work, starting this month, and that means a 10% cut in pay.  How would you like a 10% cut in pay?  But what’s more than the economic impact on the controllers is the impact on air travel itself.  Reportedly, that cutback might force the FAA to delay flights – all of them – by 30 minutes, indefinitely, in order to guarantee air safety.

Those air traffic furloughs start at O’Hare Airport in Chicago, a potential source of congestion for practically every flight nationwide – when O’Hare has delays, kiss your on-time flight, from nearly any airport, goodbye – April 21.  And what’s worse, O’Hare could lose a runway, and a tour, at least part of the day because of the cuts.  And that could mean a 37% drop in hourly landings at O’Hare, which means even more deals nationwide.

Small airports, like the one in Brownsville, Texas, have been devastated by the cuts.  The local town had to find $44,000 a month just to keep the airport open once its control tower, scheduled to be shut down by the FAA as a cost-cutting measure, is finally closed.  That’s money local towns don’t have nowadays.  Fortunately, late Sunday the FAA announced that it wouldn’t being the anticipated closure of 149 control towers at smaller airports until June, and that includes Brownsville’s tower.  But the cuts in air traffic controllers will still affect local airports’ ability to keep all towers running at the same time.

Another consequence of the cuts, 1,000 contract air traffic controllers are expected to lose their jobs entirely.

Customs lines for international flights are also growing.  At LAX, the authorities have taken to holding people on their planes for an extra hour, at times, to help ease the 90 minute customs backlog brought on by the sequester.

The wait time for customs in Miami reportedly jumped from one hour the week before the sequester to three hours and forty minutes one Saturday post-sequester.

But don’t think the rest of us domestic travelers are going to get off.  The TSA had to institute a hiring freeze, which may leave it 1,000 agents short by Memorial Day, and 2,600 short by the end of September.

Airplane via Shutterstock.

Airplane via Shutterstock.

Then there’s the impact on airlines and travel agents.  US government spending on air travel dropped 30% this month because of the sequester.  And the government accounts for 3-4% of airline revenue.  And that decreased government travel is hurting conference centers, like in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where a space conference was devastated by NASA’s withdrawal from the event as a result of budget cuts.  And that hurts hotels and local businesses too.  US Airways is also complaining about lost revenues due to the sequester.

Some in Congress are freaking out over the cutbacks:

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) said that he and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) plan to introduce legislation next week that would prohibit the FAA from closing any towers. Moran had made an unsuccessful attempt to secure funding to keep the towers open during the debate over the continuing funding resolution.

No way.  The Republicans have spent decades telling the American people how useless and evil the federal government is, how easy it is to cut spending by simply cutting “waste, fraud and abuse,” so let the American people see how expendable their government really is.

Of course, none of this stops losers like GOP Senator John Cornyn of Texas to claim the other day that the sequester isn’t impact any jobs or services anywhere.  He also claimed, specifically, that aviation isn’t being impacted one iota by the sequester.  Cornyn crowed about how the Obama administration is the “boy who cried wolf.”  Cornyn is a typical anti-American Republican, who has nothing but contempt for the government, while sucking his $174,000 a year senator’s salary from the government.

Just remember Cornyn’s snotty op ed next time you’re flying and it’s a disaster because of the sequester.  You’ll know who, and which party, to blame.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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  • BubbaLouie

    Look. When it comes to sequestering, cutting budgets, government shutdowns, raising the debt ceiling and debating such things, they should be done in a way that does not affect the average American citizen. In the first place the Debt Ceiling is an insane argument, it should be illegal to hold that hostage. And when it comes to government shutdowns social security and other (old age) and welfare recipients should be left out of the fight, by law. The definition of a federal sequester (I know it’s supposed to be stupid and painful for most everyone) should be redefined to keep us regular people out of it. We didn’t pick this Congressional fight, and since everyone in the House has wrangled themselves into a protected district and therefore (they don’t give a s**t), then leave us out of it. If you want to fight, go fight, but leave us out of it, please.

    The first cut I thought should have been to Congressional salaries and benefits. It doesn’t seem right that they serve one term in congress and then get their last salary for the rest of their life. Huh?! Hey Congress, I don’t want to be delayed one second at the airport BECAUSE you can’t seem to agree on taxes. And I am especially outraged when I see you ducking through backdoors at Reagan and Miami International Airports.

    And if you think that I don’t care if mortgage rates and other interest rates go up because you want to make some kind of stupid point by not letting the Debt Ceiling go up. You guys are, really, YOU ARE NUTS!

    And don’t ever, and I mean this, don’t you ever, EVER, EVER mess with my mother and father, or my aunt and uncle. In case you didn’t hear me I said DON’T EVER MESS WITH MY PARENTS. NEVER.

    The rest of us heard your puny response, but we’ll hold you to it. I bet each one of you were a bully either when you grew up or when you got to Washington DC. There should be laws against you!

  • silent bob

    um, if all flights are delayed by 30 min, then nothing is changing. In fact, Congress could just legislate that we have to turn our clocks back 30 min, and then we’ll never even notice.

  • The only way that the billionaires are impacted is by cuts to towers at small private airports. IIRC, there has already been a delay in the implementation of those cuts. The 1% could care less about delays on normal airlines because they do not fly normal airlines. However, the cuts to private airport towers does indeed impact them – which, of course, is why it has been stayed.

  • Plus, according to the “rules” of reporting, if a delay is posted (ie, if a new arrival/departure time is posted), it’s no longer considered to be a “delay”…

  • bill moore

    he’s worse than a hack – he’s a mean-spirited SoB – and yes, he shames the Senate by just occupying one of its positions

  • mark_in_toronto

    “Could” be delayed? What a joke.
    I recently flew from Toronto to Indianapolis and the delay was 90 minutes. They (Air Canada employees) blamed the delays on cuts of U.S. border agents. ALL U.S. flights out are delayed across-the-board. The planes just sit and wait or else fly empty.
    Keep it up America . . . nobody will even want to visit. That’ll REALLY help the economy, won’t it?

  • FLL

    The only time since Reconstruction when the party of a second-term president gained seats in the House of Representatives in the midterm elections was in 1998. This was probably because the Republicans were making such fools of themselves by impeaching Bill Clinton during 1998. It will be interesting to see if the voter turnout in 2014 is significantly lower than in the average midterm election coupled with a gain in House seats by Republicans, which would indicate fewer Democrats voting. I promise to gather the data for midterm elections during the 20th and 21st centuries because I really would like to separate fact from opinion concerning this question. If the percentage of people voting is average and the Republicans gain House seats, that would be the norm. Anything other than that (either depressed Dem turnout or a gain of House seats by the Dems) would be very interesting indeed. I’m not making any predictions; I’m just determined to compare the data.

  • Oh, I don’t know. Social Security and Medicare cuts are guaranteed to depress Dem turnout.

    Also, the economy still sucks.

  • This is nuts. If every flight is delayed by 30 minutes, that does nothing to reduce the overall volume of flights. Airports are a 24/7 operation, last I checked, except for the smaller regionals.

    The only way to ‘save’ that 10% in reduced hours is if there is a corresponding 10% reduction in air traffic.

    BTW, the freak-out is because lots of rich people fly, and they fly often. And those with their own jets would be especially impacted if their local small airfield is closed or if they’re inconvenienced with delays.

  • So, how long before these policies cost lives? There is one thing that government’s do that cost money. They set and enforce safety standards. Taxpayers have to pay for it if they want it. Air Traffic Control is about safety. The result of cutting ATC should be obvious, unless you have the IQ of a wet sock.

  • Delayed because of the Sequester? How could you tell, air service is so terrible these days.

  • Naja pallida

    Considering how rare it is for flights to operate on time in the US anyway, not like anyone will really notice. Our entire infrastructure for air travel is abysmal. Airlines are among the worst run corporations in the country. They are heavily subsidized by government money, almost all of their infrastructure is operated and maintained by government, all they have to do is book flights and keep their aircraft in the air, and they still can’t manage to make money without gouging customers, and offending them with shitty service.

    John Cornyn is a hack. He’s constantly bragging on his website and Twitter when Obama policies fail, and constantly complaining when absurd Republican policies are blocked by democracy. He is completely incapable of understanding that pretty much all of the failures of the last few Congresses can be tied directly back to him and his cronies. Especially on budgetary issues. I’m ashamed to have him as my Senator.

  • eahopp

    The cuts and delays in air travel do not affect the congress critters, or the ubber one-percenters, as they fly their own luxury planes. Let the rest of the peasants eat cake!

  • nicho

    And since politicians and the one percenters don’t fly on commercial jets, they don’t really give a fiddler’s fuck.

  • FLL

    It would be a feat almost unrivaled in American history for the party of a second-term president to actually gain seats in the House of Representatives in the midterm elections, but the Republicans might just be moronic enough to make it happen.

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