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Air traffic controller furloughs having little effect on Sea-Tac flights Monday

Post by John Gillie / The News Tribune on April 22, 2013 at 10:56 am with No Comments »
April 22, 2013 2:50 pm

Federal air traffic controller furloughs were having little effect on flights arriving and departing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Monday.

A few flights to and from Los Angeles International Airport were delayed and one LAX-Sea-Tac flight was canceled Monday morning.  A single Southwest Airlines flight from Sea-Tac to Chicago’s Midway Airport was running nearly four hours behind schedule.PHi_j0029_34(4)

On Monday afternoon and early evening, only a handful of flights were showing as running behind.

A Southwest Airlines flight to Denver at midafternoon was 40 late departing.   Another Southwest flight from Milwaukee arrived some 55 minutes late.

Alaska Airlines canceled a flight from Anchorage to Sea-Tac, a route on which it has frequent flights.

The Federal Aviation Administration has mandated air traffic controllers take one unpaid furlough day off each pay period as part of the agency’s effort to cut expenditures by $600 million between now and the end of the federal fiscal year, Sept. 30.

The FAA and other government agencies are trimming expenditures because Congress was unable to agree on a deficit reduction plan.  In the absence of that agreement,  a prior plan to cut government expenditures across the board went into effect.

The so-called “sequester” has also prompted the FAA to close air traffic control towers at some airports including Tacoma Narrows Airport to cut spending.  Those closures were scheduled to take effect this month, but the FAA delayed those closures until June because of lawsuits brought by some local jurisdictions.

The air traffic controller furloughs began Sunday.   The FAA’s own website shows significant delays Monday only at a few Eastern airports including New York’s three airports and Baltimore-Washington International Airport. You can check for delays on that site here.

Sea-Tac-based Alaska Airlines had warned its customers that its flights to several major destinations including Fort Lauderdale, Newark, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Diego and San Francisco, might be delayed by air traffic restrictions.

The airline advised passengers to check updated flight schedules before heading to the airport.

Meanwhile, German airline Lufthansa Monday cancelled a scheduled flight from Frankfurt to Sea-Tac.  The flight was among nearly 1,700 cancelled Monday because of a strike at the airline.  Only 32 of the airline’s flights got off the ground Monday.

Flights should resume Tuesday.  The strike was a one-day action.


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