As the Federal Aviation Administration implements furloughs for air traffic controllers, airlines are blaming the sequester for delays at airports around the country.
Airlines for America (A4A) and the Air Line Pilots Associations (ALPA) have created a website called DontGroundAmerica.com and are asking passengers to write about their flight delays in an effort to pressure Congress to roll back the furloughs, reports The Hill
“The FAA is furloughing thousands of air traffic controllers and will purposely delay thousands of flights every day,” says the site, adding “The FAA’s unnecessary and reckless action will disrupt air travel for millions of Americans, cost jobs and threatens to ground the U.S. economy to a halt.”
It calls for the FAA to deem air traffic controllers “essential employees” and make other cost cuts instead, urging passengers to “Send a message to the White House, the Department of Transportation, the FAA and Congress and tell them: ‘Don’t ground America!’”
The FAA needs to shave $600 million from its budget as part of the $85 million dollars in across-the-board cuts mandated by the sequester, according to The Hill.
Congressional Republicans have reportedly argued that the FAA is willfully making cuts that will affect passengers in order to score political points.
“The FAA has the flexibility to reduce costs elsewhere, such as contracts, travel, supplies and consultants, or to apply furloughs in a manner that better protects the most critical air traffic control facilities,” said GOP Rep. Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania, who chairs the House Transportation Committee, in a statement last week.
Chris Oswald, Vice President of Safety and Regulatory Affairs at the Airports Council International, told The Hill it was too early to determine whether the flight delays were the result of FAA furloughs, noting “Today is the first day we began pressure testing the system. The real testing of the system will be in the summer when the traffic goes up because of vacations.”
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