No Smart Way? Airline Edition

April 23, 2013

No Smart Way?
Airline Edition

Travelers are experiencing flight delays as a result of Federal Aviation Association (FAA) furloughs on air traffic controllers. Why them? Because according to the White House and the Department of Transportation, there’s no other way to make the cuts required in the sequester. But the Department of Transportation’s $73.2 billion budget was cut by only $1 billion, which is less than 1.4 percent of the total budget. And even with those cuts, their budget will still exceed last year’s. While some major carriers were specifically citing the sequester for delays, many airline industry officials say the FAA has “other means” to achieve the budget reduction “other than to impact the traveling public.” But don’t expect solutions anytime soon. Just today White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said they have no flexibility in making the cuts.  

 

SEQUESTER CUTS TAKE EFFECT FOR FAA

Air Traffic Controllers Furloughed, Flights Delayed:

FAA Furloughs Of Air Traffic Controllers Could Lead To Longer Wait At Airport. “Travelers could be in for longer waits at the airport this week, after the Federal Aviation Administration imposed furloughs on air traffic controllers despite claims by some lawmakers that the agency could have complied with the sequester in other ways.” (“Travelers brace for delays as FAA imposes furloughs, lawmakers decry ‘stunt,’” Fox News, 4/22/13)

  • Buzzfeed: Flight Crews Blame Sequester As Delays Kick In. ”Passengers took to social media to complain of the [flight] delays, reporting that flight crew on several major American carriers — including Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, American Airlines, and United Airlines — were all explicitly citing the ‘sequester,’ as the budget cuts are known.” (Ben Smith, “Flight Crews Blame Sequester As Delays Kick In,” Buzzfeed, 4/22/13)

 

SEQUESTER CUT LESS THAN 1.4 PERCENT OF TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT’S INCREASED BUDGET

Even With Sequester, Department of Transportation Budget Increased This Year. “Even if the cuts go into effect, the Department of Transportation will spend more money this year ($73.2 billion) than it spent last year ($72.6 billion). The administration is saying that the Department of Transportation cannot squeeze 1.4 percent of its budget without sending air traffic controllers home and that they cannot find a way to operate effectively this year with a budget that is actually larger than the budget they had last year.” (Jonathan Karl, “Devastating Sequester Spending Cuts? Give Me a Break!” ABC News, 2/22/13)

Sequester Cut Less Than 1.4 Percent of Department of Transportation’s Budget. ”The Department of Transportation’s budget for 2013 is $74.2 billion. The automatic spending cuts would slice $1 billion out of its budget: that is a cut of less than 1.4 percent.” (Jonathan Karl, “Devastating Sequester Spending Cuts? Give Me a Break!” ABC News, 2/22/13)

LaHood On Sequester Cuts: “A Billion Dollars Is A Lot Of Money.”  ABC’s Jonathan Karl Asks Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood About Sequester Cuts To Department Of Transportation At White House Press Briefing:

LaHood: There has to be some impact in order to save a billion dollars. A billion dollars is a lot of money.

Karl: Let’s be clear: It’s less than 2 percent of your budget.

LaHood: It’s a lot of money, Jonathan.

(Jonathan Karl, “Devastating Sequester Spending Cuts? Give Me a Break!” ABC News, 2/22/13)

 

AIRLINE INDUSTRY OFFICIALS TO FAA: THERE ARE OTHER WAYS TO SAVE MONEY

Industry Officials: FAA Could Have Found Other Ways to Save Money, Now Making Air Travel “Inefficient.” “Industry officials said the FAA could have found other ways to find the savings. ‘Air traffic controllers have never been furloughed, regardless of any budget cuts, and there is a reason for that–they are critical to maintain the safety and efficiency of the National Airspace System,’ Airlines for America president and CEO Nick Calio said in a statement. ‘We continue to believe that the FAA has other means to reach a 10 percent budget reduction than to impact the traveling public. When a company needs to make a 10 percent budget reduction, the answer is not to make it is so inefficient that no one wants to do business with it anymore. That’s essentially what the FAA is proposing, and in doing so harming the 2 million passengers and shippers that fund two-thirds of its budget.’” (“Airlines, pilots sue FAA over furloughs,” CBS News, 4/19/13)

FAA Has Had More Than A Year To Prepare For Cuts After Super Committee Failed To Reach Agreement To Cut Spending, Triggering Sequester. (Jessica Yellin, Alan Silverleib, Tom Cohen and Lisa Desjardins, “‘Super committee’ fails to reach agreement,” CNN, 11/22/11)

 

AS AVIATION COALITIONS BEG FOR FLEXIBILITY, THE WHITE HOUSE REFUSES TO GRANT IT

Aviation Coalitions: Give FAA Flexibility In Implementing Cuts Like Other Federal Agencies. ”While other federal agencies, such as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Customs and Border Protection (CPB), Meat Inspectors (USDA) and Bureau of Prisons (DOJ), have taken steps to avoid furloughing their essential operational personnel, the FAA believes they have not been given the same flexibility,’ [a coalition of aviation associations] wrote in a letter to White House chief of staff Denis McDonough.” (Mike M. Ahlers, “Airlines ask court to block FAA furloughs,” CNN, 4/19/13)

White House Maintains There’s Nothing They Can Do. ”But administration officials maintain they have no flexibility with where they can cut. Press Secretary Jay Carney said at the daily press briefing today that sequestration requires the administration to implement cuts across the board and prohibits agencies from shifting money around to keep vital staff on duty.” (Zeke J. Miller, “Sequestration Begins to Bite,” Time, 4/22/13)

 

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