Know who hates flight delays possibly more than frustrated travelers? The airlines, because all those disgruntled fliers will take out their travel woes on the carriers. That’s a group representing U.S. airlines as well as pilot unions are suing the Federal Aviation Administration in an attempt to stop furloughs of air-traffic controllers. The FAA warned fliers that fewer staff on duty means major flight delays could start next week.
The furloughs are supposed to start on Sunday and last through Sept. 30. Before that happens, Airlines for America, a group representing the biggest U.S. carriers, linked up with the Air Line Pilots Association and the Regional Airline Association to sue the FAA, reports USA Today.
Those groups want a 30-day postponement of the furloughs, in the hope that that will give Congress time to pass legislation that would eliminate the need for furloughs.
“The FAA plan is simply irresponsible and unnecessary,” said Nicholas Calio, chief executive of the airlines group. “This doesn’t make any sense.”
He argues that there is no way airlines could even try to prepare for the flight delays because all they have to go on is an oral briefing from FAA officials, and nary a piece of documentation to help explain everything.
The FAA is also closing 149 towers at small airports (down from a predicted 173) in its effort to meet federal spending cuts of $637 million. About $200 million of that will come from the staff furloughs.
The busiest days of travel are already Monday and Friday, which means delays on those days could be the worst at many of the nation’s largest airports. As outlined by the head of the FAA, Michael Huerta, planes will be grounded at their originating airports or have to take circuitous routes, which could cause a ripple of delays throughout the country.
Here’s how Huerta says the worst delays will go down — and keep in mind, weather is always a factor in making bad delays even badder:
• Atlanta: 11 minute average delays with 210 minutes for the worst.
• Chicago O’Hare: 50 minute average delays with 132 minutes for the worst.
• New York’s LaGuardia: 30 minute average delays with 80 minutes for the worst.
• Los Angeles: 10 minute average delays with 67 minutes for the worst.
• Newark: 20 minute average delays with 51 minutes for the worst.
• New York’s JFK: 12 minute average delays with 50 minutes for the worst.