Furloughs Begin for FAA Employees - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Furloughs Begin for FAA Employees

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The Federal Aviation Administration is cutting $637 million from its budget, as part of sequestration.

Today is the first business day of mandatory employee furloughs from those cuts.

The FAA says the lack of staffing is causing some delays in larger airports around the country.

The good news is the furloughs haven't affected air traffic, locally.

"Traffic is flowing very smoothly, today, with only one delay on the board," Heidi Jared, Reno-Tahoe International Airport Public Affairs Manager said.

Nearly 15,000 air traffic controllers are being forced to take an unpaid day off every other week until the agency slashes those costs.

Reno has 19 air traffic controllers.

"We don't really have the traffic flow patterns that some of the major hub airports have," Jared said. "So, we haven't been impacted or felt that impact like some of the east or west coast airports."

While some airports are seeing delays, the FAA says not many travelers have been impacted yet, thanks to good weather and low volume.

But airlines are warning as many as 30% of flights could be delayed.

Whether passengers will feel the effect locally, remains to be seen.

"As the days and weeks go on, it's possible there could be a ripple effect," Jared said. "We could have more delays, more cancellations, perhaps, as those flights that are impacted across the nation are trying to get into or out of the Reno area."

The automatic federal spending cuts kicked in March 1, after Congress failed to reach a deal to reduce the national deficit.

"That's why Secretary LaHood, here in this room, two months ago, called on Congress to replace these dumb sequester cuts," Jay Carney, White House spokesperson said.

Airline experts say lawmakers could still make an exception for the FAA.

"They could change the sequestration language specifically for the FAA, to enable them to take money from other areas in the FAA and apply it to the air traffic controllers," Mark Rosenker, Former National Transportation Safety Board Chairman said.

The FAA says there were about 400 delays yesterday because of staffing reductions.

They say it's a good idea for travelers to check their flight status before going to the airport.

Written by Paul Nelson

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