The Federal Aviation Administration will begin its mandatory furloughs Sunday, and travelers could see an impact as soon as Monday. The FAA said it it must furlough all 47,000 of its employees, including air traffic controllers, to meet hundreds of millions of dollars in mandated spending cuts.
According to the Chicago Tribune, The top airline industry group on Friday took legal action to prevent the FAA from furloughing air traffic controllers. The FAA plan for meeting congressionally mandated budget cuts “is illegal, irresponsible and damaging. Most of all, it’s totally unnecessary,” Nicholas Calio, president of Airlines or America (A4A), told reporters. The industry group filed a motion in Appellate Court seeking a stay to halt the FAA’s plan to furlough workers, including many FAA controllers, for up to 11 days over the rest of the fiscal year.
O’Hare Airport is expected to shut down one of its two control towers, and close a runway, which could slow down takeoffs and landings. Officials predict O’Hare delays will average from 50 minutes to two hours. The furloughs are expected to save $200 million in the current fiscal year, which ends in September, while the tower closures are expected to save $25 million, Huerta said. The agency is required to cut $637 million from its nearly $16 billion budget for the current fiscal year.