Airport delays continue on fourth day of sequester cuts

Passengers wait to go through security screening outside Terminal 1 at Los Angeles International Airport.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

On the fourth day of sequester cuts to the ranks of air traffic controllers, airports across the country continue to be hard hit by delays caused by a shortage of controllers -- and severe weather.

The Federal Aviation Administration, which began Sunday to furlough about 10% of its air traffic controllers, warned that staff shortages will mean delays at airports in Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Tampa.

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Jennifer Fogg, a construction contractor from Oklahoma City, was fuming Wednesday at Los Angeles International Airport after her morning flight for a business meeting in Mississippi was canceled. United Airlines told her it was because air traffic controllers were furloughed.

“Not getting me to where I need to go doesn’t help the economy,” she said.


The FAA said it was forced on Tuesday to delay more than 1,025 flights, with an additional 975 flights delayed by severe weather and other factors.

On Monday, the FAA said it delayed about 1,200 flights because of staff shortages, with only 400 delays attributed to staff shortages Sunday.

On a typical day, the nation’s airports report about 5,800 to 6,000 flights that are delayed more than 15 minutes.

To monitor airport delays across the country, visit the FAA website.

In Washington, FAA Chief Michael Huerta defended his decision to furlough about 10% of U.S. air traffic controllers, telling lawmakers he had no choice under government-wide cuts.

“It will have no effect on safety, but what will suffer is efficiency,” he told members of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the FAA’s budget.


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