Remember the rumors of all the trickle-down effects that sequestration will have on the travel industry? Well, it looks like you’re going to start feeling the real impact of federal budget cuts this week. The Federal Aviation Administration began to cut staffing at air traffic control towers by 10 percent at some of the nation’s busiest airports, which means fewer arrivals and fewer departures during some of the busiest times of the day.
The cuts are all part of a plan to shinrk the FAA’s annual budget by $637 million. While the FAA and the US Department of Transportation have not released an official statement to the public, officials from both agencies have warned airlines that the furloughs could mean delays of more than three hours in Atlanta.
SEE ALSO: When You’ll Find the Cheapest Flights
The cuts went into effect on Sunday, but travelers didn’t feel the real impact until the official start of the business week on Monday. According to a report from Scott Mayerowitz at the Associated Press, some flights into New York, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. were delayed by more than two hours on Monday due to a shortage of controllers. Officials predict that busy hubs such as Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York may experience delays between 60 - 180 minutes.
Business travel has been picking up recently, but the delays have travel industry advocates concerned. An open letter from Michael W. McCormick, Executive Director and COO, Global Business Travel Association, to Michael Huerta, the head of the FAA, warns of the worries.
“This policy will produce missed connections and widespread flight cancellations,” McCormick writes. “If these disruptions unfold as predicted, business travelers will stay home, severely impacting not only the travel industry but the economy overall. It is just that simple.”
Budget Cuts Hurting Group Business, Too
Sequestration is doing more than causing headaches for individual travelers. It’s causing challenges for meeting planners, too. As federal agencies have looked for opportunities to reduce spending, some meetings and events have been cancelled. Other agencies are reducing the number of employees they send to meetings and conferences, too.
Click here to learn how more about the negative impacts that sequestration is having on the meetings industry.