FAA furloughs begin Sunday

Air travelers beware - long lines and delays may come as soon as Sunday as furloughs take over the FAA. (Source: CNN)
Air travelers beware - long lines and delays may come as soon as Sunday as furloughs take over the FAA. (Source: CNN)

WASHINGTON, DC (CNN) - The Federal Aviation Administration's furloughs will begin Sunday and air travelers may being to expect significant travel delays early next week, according to top transportation officials.

Major airports will experience average delays of 10 to 30 minutes or more. The wait could soar in instances when furloughs force airports to shut down runways because of fewer air traffic controllers.

Officials point to Los Angeles International Airports, were waits could exceed an hour. At the world's busiest airport Hartsfield Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, delays could run three and a half hours under specific circumstances.

Those predicted wait times could grow longer if bad weather and equipment outages play a role.

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and FAA administrator Michael Huerta briefed media in Washington Thursday, saying the public needs to be informed about the impacts of the forced spending cuts, known as the sequester.

The Department of Transportation needs to cut $1 billion from its budget, with nearly $637 million of that coming from the FAA.

Congressional Republicans say the Department of Transportation could have selected less harmful cuts. LaHood, who is a Republican, said there is now way to cut that much money without impacting services.

"We have done everything within the sequestration law to do everything possible," said LaHood. "To find a billion dollars, and if we had our way, we probably wouldn't be sitting here."

LaHood also added that the idea of sequester was "dumb."

"This is very painful," LaHood said. "This is not what we signed up for. Not one person in American would use the sequester to figure out their budget. It's a meat-ax approach."

LaHood and Huerta said they will not compromise safety.

"We will only allow the number of aircraft we can safely manage to fly," LaHood said. "And I want to make it abundantly clear; we will not take a backseat to safety during sequestration."

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