San Francisco is among the airports that could experience flight delays as air traffic controller furloughs are scheduled to kick in today, federal officials said .
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Aviation Administrator Michael Huerta said they have no choice but to cut controller staffing by 10 percent, which will reduce how many planes airports can handle.
Without the furloughs, FAA officials could find no way to cut $637 million from the agency’s budget as required by automatic, across-the-board spending cuts approved by Congress, LaHood and Huerta said at a media briefing.
Airports for which officials provided delay estimates include Newark, N.J., with maximum delays of 51 minutes and average delays of about 20 minutes; John F. Kennedy in New York, with maximum delays of 50 minutes and average 12 minutes; LaGuardia in New York, with maximum delays of 80 minutes and average 30 minutes; Los Angeles International, with maximum delays of 67 minutes, and average 10 minutes, and Chicago’s O’Hare, with maximum delays of 132 minutes, average 50 minutes.
Airports in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Charlotte, N.C.; San Diego, Philadelphia and San Francisco, as well as Chicago’s Midway Airport, are also expected to experience significant delays, the officials said, although they didn’t provide estimates on how long those delays might be.
The FAA’s delay estimates don’t include possible ripple effects throughout the country, Huerta said.
But air travelers may get a break on the ground. A senior Transportation Security Administration official said Thursday he doesn’t expect furloughs for his agency, which staffs airport security across the nation. And, he said, longer wait times at checkpoints have not yet materialized as a result of so-called sequestration, as Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned last month.