Airlines and airports across the country are preparing for across-the-board federal budget cuts due to hit next week as if they were a hurricane, although with even less certainty about how many flights they will have to cancel and how many passengers will be stranded. The federal government is warning about delays that could begin in March, as the first cuts take effect, and reduced takeoffs and slower security lines that could worsen in April with furloughs.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has told Congress that most of the Federal Aviation Administration’s 47,000 employees would face a day of furlough per two-week pay period, meaning on average about 10 percent fewer workers on any given day. There are about 14,750 air traffic controllers, including trainees, so that would mean on every shift there would be substantially fewer in all. In some areas, like New York, there could be problems even in advance of furloughs, if overtime budgets are cut.