FAA: Air traffic controller furloughs trigger third day of flight delays

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Air traffic controller furloughs Tuesday triggered scattered flight delays across the nation for a third day, but windy weather was to blame for lengthy delays at New York City's airports, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA has taken steps to manage delays at airports around the country by holding departures until slots open in the air traffic system.

Winds Tuesday caused arrival delays of 2 hours and 19 minutes at Newark Liberty Airport, an hour and 55 minutes at LaGuardia Airport, and an hour and 18 minutes at Kennedy Airport, according to the FAA website fly.faa.gov.

Controller furloughs due to mandatory federal spending cuts caused delays of an hour and 13 minutes at Reagan National Airport in the Washington area, the FAA said in a statement. The agency also said it faced "staffing challenges" at New York, Los Angeles, Dallas-Ft. Worth and Las Vegas.

Controller furloughs could be blamed for 1,200 flight delays on Monday, the FAA said in a statement.

Another 1,400 delays on Monday were due to weather and other factors. About 400 flights delayed on Sunday were related to having fewer controllers, the FAA said.

"This is just the beginning of what promises to be a huge economic disruption if the furloughs are not stopped," said Doug Church, spokesman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, the union that represents FAA controllers.

The budget cuts known as "sequestration" began March 1 after Congress failed to reach agreement on a long-term federal budget-cutting plan.

Furloughs throughout the federal government started after a 30-day notice period. The cuts forced the FAA to trim its budget by $637 million.

Agency officials have said they have no choice but to furlough 15,000 air traffic controllers. All of the agency's 47,000 employees are subject to furloughs.

Each FAA employee will lose a day of work every other week.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta have said that flights to major cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco could experience delays of as much as 90 minutes during peak hours because fewer controllers will be working.

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