About 400 flights were delayed Sunday because of air traffic controller furloughs, the
Paul Wiedefeld, the airport's executive director, cautioned that the situation was fluid.
"It's coming at the worst possible time as we get into peak season and see extreme weather pop up across the country, and it could grow exponentially," Wiedefeld said. "All of us are still trying to get our arms around this, and I think we'll know more — Thursday, Friday — going into this weekend."
The FAA warned that nationwide, more delays are on the horizon as air traffic gets heavier during the week and weather puts pressure on understaffed air traffic controllers.
"Controllers will space planes farther apart so they can manage traffic with current staff, which will lead to delays at airports," the federal agency said in a statement.
At BWI, travelers are being urged to check with their airlines and the airport website for delays.
"But even that's kind of risky because things can change pretty quickly," Wiedefeld said. "The uncertainty with this is the frustrating part."
Furloughs of air traffic controllers have prompted an outcry from Washington lawmakers and litigation by pilots and airlines who say they could have been avoided. Airline workers have even started to use frustrated passengers to pressure the FAA to reconsider the budget cuts.
To help cut more than $600 million called for by budget sequestration, the FAA ordered air traffic controllers starting Sunday to take one furlough day for every two-week pay period. That would cut the nation's nearly 15,000 air traffic controllers by about 10 percent on any given day.
By Sunday evening a few airports across the country, including Los Angeles International and New York's
Flights were delayed Monday by an average of about 80 minutes at Kennedy and LaGuardia but the
"There are many reasons for delays," said Ron Morisco, a spokesman for the Port Authority. He declined to comment on the specific impact of furloughs on delays.
The FAA and two airline monitoring websites showed that the nation's overall air traffic system operated close to normal for a Monday, a heavy air travel day. The exceptions were long delays attributed to air traffic control staff shortages at several airports in Florida and North Carolina.
Airlines for America, the trade group for the nation's largest airlines, joined a pilots association and operators of regional carriers in a suit filed Friday that asks the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to prevent job furloughs. But the court is not expected to consider the suit until later this week.
The airlines and pilots groups say the furloughs will delay as many as 6,700 flights per day.
"While we are not seeing a significant impact on operations at this point, we are experiencing delays in areas where the weather is good, which should not be the case," said Jean Medina, a spokeswoman for the airlines group.
In Washington, the FAA budget cuts prompted an outcry from critics of the Obama administration.
"We know that 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 Rep.
White House press secretary