Huerta details severe impact of sequester

The US Federal Aviation Administration is sending letters to nearly all of its 47,000 employees this week, notifying them that they will face temporary lay-offs as a result of automatic budget cuts.
The budgets cuts – or sequester – were implemented last Friday forcing the FAA to cut $637 million this tax year.
Speaking to the AAAE Forecast Conference in Washington, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said the aviation agency is looking at all options to reduce costs.
“We have instituted a hiring freeze, and have begun to cut contracts, travel and other items. But, to reach the large figure we need to cut, we have little choice but to make up the rest through furloughing employees. This is not something that we take lightly,” he said.
“We are sending letters to nearly all of the FAA’s 47,000 employees this week, notifying them that they will be furloughed. We anticipate each affected employee could be furloughed for approximately one day every two weeks starting in April until the end of September.”
Under a furlough action, controllers would work fewer hours, and flights to major cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco could experience delays up to 90 minutes during peak hours.
“This will have ripple effects throughout the United States,” said Huerta.
He added that the FAA is also considering the elimination of midnight shifts at more than 60 air traffic control towers across the US in addition to the closure of a large number of the 238 air traffic control towers that have fewer than 150,000 total flight operations and less than 10,000 commercial flight operations per year.
“Almost all of our FAA accounts are involved,” said Huerta. “Therefore, this will affect nearly all of our employees.
“These cuts will need to be distributed proportionately across all budget line items in the affected accounts. This significantly decreases our flexibility in managing the budget reductions. However, the Airport Improvement Programme – AIP – is exempt from the sequester. So, the AIP and staff working on it will carry on with business as usual.”