officially suspended the furloughs for all 47,000 of its employees over the weekend, after Congress passed a bill giving the agency authorization to shift surplus Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds to its sequestered 2013 operating budget.
The agency said air traffic facilities returned to regular staffing levels Sunday evening to resume normal operations. The furloughs began last week, resulting in thousands of flight delays at major airports across the nation, forcing lawmakers to act swiftly after reactions from airline industry groups, air travelers and unions increased.
“Without giving the FAA
any additional funding, the bill allows the Secretary of Transportation to transfer funds already in other FAA accounts, which the agency can use to avoid reductions in operations and staffing. This measure will force a stop to these needless furloughs. FAA also has the discretion to use this funding to keep air traffic control contract towers open," said House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.).
FAA has not yet stated whether the new legislation will result in a decision to keep the 149 contract air traffic control towers open through the end of the 2013 fiscal year. The towers were originally scheduled to begin closing this month, and the agency has delayed the closings until June 15.
Related: Congress Passes Bill to End FAA Furloughs