Flight delay expenses add up

From the Associated Press

Flight delays are enough of a headache. Now Congress is saying that getting stuck in airports and on runways is a "$41-billion punch in the gut."

The congressional Joint Economic Committee, in a report released Thursday, found that was the approximate cost to the U.S. economy from air traffic delays in 2007.

That consisted of $19 billion in extra operating costs for the airlines, $12 billion in costs to passengers from reduced productivity and lost business and leisure opportunities and almost $10 billion in indirect costs.

"Passengers, airlines and our economy felt a $41-billion punch in the gut from flight delays," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), chairman of the committee. "With the summer travel season being kicked off with Memorial Day, delays and the costs of those delays will only go up."

Missed connections, disrupted ground travel plans, lost prepaid hotel reservations and missed meetings were among the factors considered for passenger costs.

The costs to the airlines included $1.6 billion to pay for extra jet fuel. He said the Federal Aviation Administration should move quickly to modernize its air-traffic control system and increase the number of air traffic controllers.

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