Sequestration to delay US air travel
POSTED: Friday, April 5, 2013 - 9:44pm
UPDATED: Saturday, April 6, 2013 - 2:52pm
Communities nationwide are starting to feel the sting of sequestration. Now, the traveling public will soon feel it too, especially as summer time approaches, the busiest air travel season of the year.
The Transportation Security Administration says federal budget cuts have forced the department to cut staffing of Customs officers -- that means longer airport wait times for both domestic and international flights.
"We're waiting for our soldier to come home. He was supposed to be here at 6:55pm and his flight has been delayed until 7:20pm and we're looking at possibly later," said Laura Johns.
"I have a little one. If I was to bring my little one, she would be all over the place -- tired, sleepy. Not only does it affect adults but kids as well," said Evelyn Heras.
When sequestration was first announced earlier this year, Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood warned Americans that flights to major cities like New York or Chicago could be delayed up to two hours.
"I have priority status with United so when I go through security, I usually get ahead in the queue and so I can bypass the big delays but for families that don't have that status, I'm sure it's kind of burdensome," said Ruben Tamez.
But there could be light at the end of this dark tunnel. Last month, the FAA announced it would close down control towers at mostly regional airports because of the sequester.
But today, officials announced they would delay the closures until June 15th to give communities more time to decide if they can afford the operating costs for keeping their control towers running.
The FAA says the air traffic control tower shutdowns were necessary in order to reach the $637 million in budget cuts they were obligated to make under the sequester.
Meanwhile, the TSA has imposed a hiring freeze which it predicts will leave 26 hundred airport screening jobs vacant.