Travelers are facing more flight delays around the country and here in Austin because of budget cuts forcing air traffic controllers to take time off.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, has accused the Federal Aviation Administration of “deliberately engineering flight delays and inconveniencing passengers and creating hardship just in order to try to make a political point.”
Starting this week, air traffic controllers employed by the FAA are furloughed one day per two-week pay period because of the across-the-board federal budget cuts known as the sequester. Matthew Sheffield, the Austin representative for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, says the FAA is doing what it has to do and says safety demands delays “and reducing our arrival and departure rates here at Austin because of the lack of controllers on position.”
Cornyn says the FAA could have handled it differently.
“What’s happening now is not because of any cuts, it’s because of the willful refusal of the administration and the FAA to work with the Congress to come up with the flexibility they need in order to manage the funds they do have in a way that avoids these furloughs,” Cornyn said.
Sheffield agrees with that, in part. He doesn’t want to have to take unpaid time off. He hopes Congress and the White House can make a deal that keeps controllers on the job.