Controller furloughs to take effect today

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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.

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  • Doug Walker

    Our government is the very inept and lack management of budgets/priority of our services that they are responsible. Each citizen with jobs just got hit with loss of income due to new taxes and yet we figured how to survive from a more logical or pragmatic standpoint. I will be happy when the government grants its TAX PAYING citizens first consideration over they’re POLITICAL and BUREAUCRATIC interest.

  • Doug Walker

    Our government is very inept and lack management of budgets/priority of our services that they are responsible. Each citizen with jobs just got hit with loss of income due to new taxes and yet we figured how to survive from a more logical or pragmatic standpoint. I will be happy when the government grants its TAX PAYING citizens first consideration over they’re POLITICAL and BUREAUCRATIC interest.

  • lapazjim

    Well this is yet another Obama fine mess he has gotten us into.Many more to come! He will no doubt put the blame all on the GOP as usual as though he has no pert in anything>. He takes no blame for anything that happens that is negative,but let something happen he can claim as a positive and the parade rolls out.His Obama care is going to a "train wreck" according to his own people.What else is he doing that can be worse than a train wreck is not known,but this train wreck along with these so called furloughs could be enough to put his country over the edge!!

      • lapazjim

        If the truth slapped you in the face tomorrow you would still not be able to see it.Take a look at what coming and be prepared.You probably wont do anything so perish with the rest.This is only the start and yet a preview is what is to come.The politicians only vote as they think and want.Not as what the people who elected them think and want.It has become the thing to do in DC now days and maybe you belong right along side of them.Since you are so smart why don't you run for office and make the poor decisions they do.Oh that's right you probably already do make poor decisions!!

    • Marie

      Scientists at Fermilab went through 2 Furloughs, under W. Bush. Not looking forward to enduring that again, if it comes to pass.

  • Joop Fip

    Are you guys (lapazjim and Doug) completely braindead? This is -directly- related to the demand for cuts promoted by -your- people. You say government is inept and want to cut it? Then the cuts come and you blame it again for the result? Your lack of comprehension of the consequences of your ideology borders on insanity. It is likely both of you are beyond home, but I leave this comment only as a service to future visitors of this site that might otherwise think you represent a significant or sane worldview… which you do not. May you someday wake up and smell what you've been shoveling.

  • Jason Harris

    Why does the FAA include the building of two new towers in its budget:

    if it intends to close over 100 towers?
    (look on page 2 of the summary, scroll down around 5-6 pages, last paragraph under Facilities and Equipment)

    Now lets analyze the budget (keep scrolling until you see the first spreadsheet. The numbers are rounded to thousands, meaning the projected budget listed of $15,145,816 is $15 billion.):

    ~Why does the FAA need to spend $500 Million in "Finance and management," $200 million in staff offices (per year!) and $98 million in "Human Resources?"
    ~Staff Offices does not include the towers. This is just administration staff offices.
    ~Why is there $480 Million allocated for "personnel" under the category of "facilities and equipment?" Is the $9.7 TRILLION under "Operations" not sufficient?
    ~How about "Grants in-aid for Airports?" Do they need $103 Million for staff in their grants department? At $45,000 salary per person, that gives 228 people to give grants. That is almost one person per airport in America.

    These are the facts. I charge that the airport workers being laid off is a ploy at the expense of the American public to divert attention away from the real waste going on in the FAA.

    • Flyboy

      Some of those tower closures are because they are outdated and or not in use very much.
      The new tower being built at O'Hare was budgeted for many years ago but, the ground breaking was delayed several times.

      • Jason Harris

        …Some…but not all of the towers. Your response overlooks my point.

        If the new towers were delayed in the past, what makes this year a good time to build them, at the cost of billions of dollars, when the FAA budget has been cut, and 47,000 people are furlowed and 17,000 independent contractors laid off (as part of the 47,000 number)?

        If I was laid off from my job, I would not choose to do postponed renovations around the house when my income stream had vanished.

        Further, why does it cost $200 million a year to operate offices? In 50 states and a few territories, that's $3.3 million per state/territory. Doesn't that seem a little extravagant for office space? Keep in mind, that does not include spending for facilities used by Air Traffic Control, equipment such as radar, VOR, etc. It is just for office space.

        Why is there a half a billion dollars spent in finance?

        Why do we need $103 million for staff, just for aid grants?

        Lets assume the staff are highly compensated, at $100K/year per person, plus benefits and other overhead for a total cost of $150,000 per person per year. This assumption allows for 686 employees for the sole purpose of delegating financial aid to 14000 airports.

        That's 20 airports per employee, assuming the average salary of $100K. A 48 week work year (4 weeks vacation) yields 1920 hours per employee, divided by 20 airports = 96 hours of work per airport in the unlikely event that all 14000 apply for a grant. I know several loan officers, and they can handle the paperwork and approvals process for 20 loans in a week. Loans are similar to grants, except they must be paid back.

        I know I've made a lot of assumptions here, so I've tried to be liberal in my estimates, high salaries, counting all 14000 airports, even though many are just dirt strips somewhere with no navigational aids. The fact remains that the budget of $103 million for staff in a "grants" department is over 2000 times the average American household income, and it funds a department which needs nowhere near 2000 employees.

        Use the same logic with the rest of the budget.

        Now, I don't think Obama is on a single handed mission to destroy America, and I don't think house Republicans are trying to distract us while they line the pockets of their buddies. I think, or at least I hope, that both parties are interested in fiscal responsibility. It would be nice to see focus placed on cutting real waste, instead of risking plane collisions in the middle of the sky because the control tower is empty.

        Perhaps the FAA could shift some funding into their R & D to develop better automated systems and reduce the need for the need for as much human labor. This could really help lower their $200 million/year in office space budget as well.

        I'm not an expert in avionics, but I have run businesses with employees, overhead, etc. Looking at their budget, I see a lot of areas where drastic reduction in expense could be made without jeopardizing citizens living beneath the airways.