LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Delays were reported at airports in the Southland and around the nation today as a result of the furloughing of air traffic controllers under federal sequestration budget cuts.
The average delay Sunday night was three hours in the Southern California Terminal Radius Approach Control (TRACON), according to National Air Traffic Controllers Association spokesman Doug Church.
“They basically cut their arrival rate in half,” Church said. “That’s no way to run the air traffic control system.”
The Federal Aviation Administration is requiring all workers to take one unpaid day off of every 10-day period through Sept. 30, and that goes beyond control towers in airports, Church said.
The TRACON in Miramar controls aircraft after takeoff and on approach throughout Southern California, and there’s a regional control center in Palmdale that controls aircraft at high altitudes. The furloughs at those facilities affect flights throughout the system.
“Like a water spigot, their effects are felt,” Church said.
According to an FAA statement, the agency “is implementing traffic management initiatives at airports and facilities around the country” due to the furloughs mandated by budget cuts.
“Travelers can expect to see a wide range of delays that will change throughout the day depending on staffing and weather-related issues,” according to the FAA. “For example, the FAA is experiencing staffing challenges at New York Center and TRACON, Fort Worth Center, Jacksonville Center and Los Angeles Center. Controllers will space planes farther apart so they can manage traffic with current staff, which will lead to delays at airports including New York’s La Guardia Airport.
“The FAA is working with the airlines throughout the day to try to minimize delays for travelers. We encourage all travelers to check their flight status and also to visit fly.faa.gov for the latest airport delay information.
Yesterday there were approximately 400 delays in the system attributable to staffing reductions resulting from the furlough.”
As of late Sunday night, close to 70 percent of LAX arrivals were late or very late, as were about 40 percent of departures, according to the website flightview.com.
As of about 6:30 this morning, about 10 percent of LAX arrivals were late or very late, as were about 20 percent of departures, according to flightview.com. By about 10:35 a.m., only about 5 percent of LAX arrivals were late or very late, as were about 15 percent of departures.
About 80 percent of arrivals were late or very late at Orange County’s John Wayne Airport as of late Sunday night, according to flightview.com. As of shortly before 7 this morning, about 20 percent of arrivals were late. No departures were late. By 10:35 a.m., just under 20 percent of arrivals were late or very late, and about 30 percent of departures were late or very late.
JWA spokeswoman Jenny Wedge said, however, she was unaware of any impact the furloughs were having on traffic at the Santa Ana airport.