Sequester to Cause Flight Delays, Long Lines at Security and Customs Checkpoints
The federal government is warning that the upcoming federal budget cuts, known as a sequester, will cause significant delays at airports across the country. The impact will undoubtedly include flight delays, longer lines at TSA security checkpoints at airports, and longer waits at passport and immigration lines staffed by Customs and Border Patrol agents.
The budget cuts are expected to have an impact similar to a major storm or hurricane although the precise impact in terms of the number of flights to be cancelled and passengers to be impacted is unknown.
The sequester “will require indiscriminate spending reductions,” wrote Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a leter to Barbara Mikulski, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The cuts will start to take effect at the beginning of March and travelers will soon experience slower security checkpoint lines, long lines at immigration and passport control, and a reduced number of takeoffs. The impact of the cuts to an industry that has continued to struggle since the start of the recession is hard to determine.
LaHood recently told Congress that the sequester will result in an effective cut of 10% of the Federal Aviation Administration’s 47,000-employee workforce, which translates into almost 1,000 fewer air traffic controllers out of the typical 15,000 that are regularly on duty on a given day. The shortage will mean that fewer airplanes will be allowed into the system, a tactic used in bad weather. This in turn will translate into an increase in flight delays as well as cancellations
“These across-the-board cuts may punish travelers with flight delays, long security lines at Transportation Security Agency checkpoints and multi-hour waits to clear Customs and Border Protection,” said Roger Dow, president of the U.S. Travel Association in a prepared statement.