President Barack Obama and his DoT folks, abetted by the press, have done their best to create a commercial travel problem out of the Obama Sequester. The press, including “fair and balanced” Fox News, are focusing on the ATC Controller furlough-caused 1,600 delays per day since the furlough scheme went in.
What the press cynically omit to mention is that ATC Controllers handle 28,500+ commercial, 27,000+ general aviation, 24,500+ air taxi and charter, 5,000+ military, and 2,000+ air cargo flights, or more than 87,000 flights each day.
Now we’re six days into the Obama-directed Huerta Furlough, and the FAA’s own Web site shows the lack of widespread “staffing” delays. If you’re patient, and track that site through a day, you’ll see that the “staffing” delays are concentrated in the New York area with an occasional bump in LA or Chicago.
Michael Huerta, FAA Administrator, was asked during his testimony before the House Wednesday why he couldn’t focus ATC furloughs—to the extent they’re needed at all—on regional and small airports, leaving these larger, much busier airports fully staffed. Huerta responded that he couldn’t pick winners and losers from among the nation’s airports.
Which, of course, is exactly what he’s doing when he elevates those regional and small airports to the same level as the US’ air traffic hubs. Oh, and maximizing what little pain the FAA’s share of the sequester can cause.
Update: The FAA…has suspended furloughs for air traffic controllers….
Air traffic facilities are supposed to return to regular staffing through today, and normal ops should be achieved by tonight.