The White House reacted strongly on Monday to reports of thousands of flight delays at airports across the nation, saying the "arbitrary" and "unfortunate" FAA
-imposed sequestration furloughs are responsible for the delays.
said more than 1,200 flight delays on Monday were attributable to "staffing reductions resulting from the furlough." The agency said air travelers can expect to see a wide range of delays that will change "throughout the day depending on staffing and weather related issues." More than 70 percent of FAA's operating budget goes to personnel costs, and the agency was forced to squeeze a $637 million reduction of its 2013 budget into six months after the sequester was delayed from January to March.
"These furloughs, that's the unfortunate fact of arbitrary, across-the-board cuts like this," White House spokesperson Jay Carney said during Monday's press briefing. "And that's why Secretary LaHood, here in this room two months ago, called on Congress to replace these dumb sequester cuts and put instead in place a smarter approach to deficit reduction. Remember, this is a result of sequester that was never meant to be law. And it was never meant to be law for reasons like this -- because the across-the-board nature of cuts. And in an agency like DOT and the FAA, because they’re personnel-heavy, the effect of these cuts inevitably will be felt at the personnel level."
Air traffic controller staffing issues have been prevalent at the Dallas-Fort Worth and Las Vegas Terminal Radar Approach Control Facilities. The staffing issues combined with weather and other factors further complicates the issue, making the delays difficult to predict for FAA, airlines and airports.
Related: FAA Projects Thousands of Flight Delays Daily, Cites Sequester