Video: Flight delays because of sequester cuts?

posted at 1:21 pm on April 22, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Over the weekend, the FAA began furloughing tower personnel after the long-dreaded sequester cuts became a reality. The FAA, the airline industry, and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano all warned Americans that this would lead to massive backups in airports across the country, and CBS News updates us on the latest in Nightmare on Sequester Street:

Commercial airline flights moved smoothly throughout most of the country on Sunday, the first day air traffic controllers were subject to furloughs resulting from government spending cuts, though some delays appeared in the late evening in and around New York. And even though the nightmarish flight delays and cancellations that the airline industry predicted would result from the furloughs did not materialize yet, the real test will come Monday, when traffic ramps up.

Information from the FAA and others showed that flying Sunday was largely uneventful, with most flights on time. There were delays in parts of Florida, but those were caused by thunderstorms.

Mark Duell at the flight tracking website FlightAware said that John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports in New York indicated delays due to lower staffing starting late Sunday evening. JFK averaged 70-minute delays for inbound flights, but no detectable departure delays. LaGuardia averaged 74-minute delays for inbound flights, and departure delays of 37 minutes.

The FAA website said that flights from Philadelphia and Orlando, Fla., into John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia and Westchester County airports were delayed due to staffing issues.

As Jim Geraghty pointed out earlier today on Twitter, though, the FAA’s Air Traffic Control System Command Center website showed almost nothing but green lights across the nation, even as late as 11:15 ET when all airports were open for full business. Newark International had a red light this morning, showing delays between 46-60 minutes on holds and taxiing, but as of 11:45 ET it was back to green, although it did flip to yellow at 1 pm (16-30 minute delays).  Baltimore-Washington went red at midday.  Only two other airports, LaGuardia and JFK in New York (orange) indicated any other significant delays, both for inbound rather than outbound flights.  For LaGuardia, it’s weather related, and for JFK it’s runway maintenance.

The rest of the country — including LAX and all of the Midwestern hub centers — showed green, meaning no delays over 15 minutes.

Why might that be?  Veronique de Rugy reminds us that air-traffic levels have fallen considerably over the last several years — while the FAA budget has not:

First, even after the cuts, the FAA’s operations, facilities, and equipment budget is going to be higher than it was in 2008. Planes were flying just fine back then, and no one was talking about closing large number of air-traffic-control towers. Moreover, as Mercatus Center’s Gary Leff reminds us:

Of course the FAA budget goes up year-over-year (in nominal terms) even under the sequester, and air traffic control is handling 27% fewer departures than prior to 9/11 with a budget that’s 41% higher (again, nominal $). And that’s aside from actually probably being able to make some cuts without noticeable service effects, even before having to put off capital investment in future air-traffic-control improvements.

Leff goes on to quote the Reason Foundation’s Bob Poole:

The Administration’s marching orders to all government agencies covered by the sequester law (including FAA’s parent, the Department of Transportation) seem designed to inflict maximum pain on the traveling public, in hopes of mobilizing aviation stakeholders, the media, and the traveling public to demand that Congress change the law. I have tried to figure out how a mandated cut of $600 million — under 5% — in the FAA’s $12.75 billion budget (excluding the exempted airport grants program) could possibly require all-hands furloughs reducing 47,000 daily personnel by 10% and the shut-down of 100 low-activity (mostly contract) towers and ending midnight shifts at 60 or more low-activity towers (which should have been done in any case). This appears to be a classic example of the “Washington Monument” strategy of trying to prevent budget cuts by proposing the worst possible method of coping — rather than finding 5% of the budget that could be eliminated or deferred with the least harm.

Second, the FAA’s ATC budget is loaded with what Cato Institute’s Tad DeHaven rightly calls “plane pork,” and it should be cut dramatically (it should be privatized, really). Just as the “bridge to nowhere” exposed how the federal government was spending money to build expensive bridges that serve no one, a look at where some of the FAA money is going reveals how much of taxpayers’ dollars is spent on small airports with no passengers[.]

So far, they have succeeded in mobilizing the airlines and the unions, which have sued the FAA over the furloughs.  If this Delayageddon doesn’t materialize, however, it’s going to make all of these stakeholders look pretty silly — and underscore the need to get tough on government spending.

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Big deal.

You can’t take a White House tour, so who needs to fly anyway?

Obama’s plan: cause maximum damage for most political gain.

profitsbeard on April 22, 2013 at 1:24 PM

I notice Oloser still is funding the Muslim Brotherhood.

stormridercx4 on April 22, 2013 at 1:27 PM

What he means is Old Testament, real wrath of God type stuff. Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes! The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!

John the Libertarian on April 22, 2013 at 1:28 PM

I flew Sunday morning from Newark, NJ to southern California. Departed early in morning, arrived 40 minutes early in California. I’m all for this new reality.

parke on April 22, 2013 at 1:28 PM

Sequester = Furloughs = Fewer Union Dues

sentinelrules on April 22, 2013 at 1:31 PM

Government: The one entity that can never, ever make do with less.

Bitter Clinger on April 22, 2013 at 1:31 PM

LOL…all the delays in states that voted for the retard in chief.

txdoc on April 22, 2013 at 1:33 PM

Bull – My Sunday flight from MDW to PHL was the fastest it’s ever been into Philadelphia International.

Philly is also notorious for being a difficult airport to arrive at because of its terminal layout which allows only one plane to travel through an alleyway at a time. The anecdotal evidence can be due to any of a number of reasons. This is a reporter in search of a sequester report favorable to the left.

blammm on April 22, 2013 at 1:34 PM

What he means is Old Testament, real wrath of God type stuff. Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes! The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!

John the Libertarian on April 22, 2013 at 1:28 PM

“Ghostbusters” for the win.

Steve Eggleston on April 22, 2013 at 1:34 PM

There. Are definitely fewer flights in the nation. Whereas I used to be able to find about a dozen flights from the Midwest to Florida per day I’m down to 3 at my airport and the prices have tripled and the flights are almost always at 100% capacity.

This is a dictatorship at work denying my freedoms to serve the politburo’s needs. It’s disgusting.

Much like sheltering at home…

Skywise on April 22, 2013 at 1:35 PM

WHAT??! A delay at an airport? That never happens!! /s

Don’t you remember the good old days when they used to blame everything on global warming?!

Sterling Holobyte on April 22, 2013 at 1:35 PM

I’ll bet Air Force One gets to the vicinity of some golf course on the other side of the country on time.

TimBuk3 on April 22, 2013 at 1:36 PM

LOL, bullsqueeze.

Janet Napolitano’s bagpipes are unavailable for comment.

Midas on April 22, 2013 at 1:38 PM

You would also have to separate out any delays caused by the 24-hour Lufthansa strike.

HakerA on April 22, 2013 at 1:41 PM

Are air traffic controllers the only FAA employees? Must be, because they’re the only ones being furloughed.

Curtiss on April 22, 2013 at 1:42 PM

For every air traffic control person furloughed
does the Muslim b hood in Syria get a new
bomb ?

Lucano on April 22, 2013 at 1:44 PM

The rat-eared coward is headed to Dallas later this week. That means they’ll shut down air traffic over DFW, hardly a small airport. I get the sense they’ll take their sweet time in getting Air Force One through the restrictions in order maximize delays to all the passengers victims forced to fly on American.

Happy Nomad on April 22, 2013 at 1:47 PM

What he means is Old Testament, real wrath of God type stuff. Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes! The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!

John the Libertarian on April 22, 2013 at 1:28 PM

I love it, truly, though was hoping for an Obama-inspired adaptation of the “d1ckless” part of that scene.

GOP: “Everything was fine with our system until the sequester was suggested by dickless here.”

Obama: “*They* caused the sequester!

Media: “Is this true?”

GOP: “Yes, it’s true. This man has no dick.”

Midas on April 22, 2013 at 1:51 PM

My brother-in-law got furloughed from a Corps of Engineer job. They do this crazy thing of working twelve hour days during the early summer due to some kind of bird nesting on their project. They aren’t sure if the furlough will last just a week or if they will suspend during the entire nesting season. Oh, they admit to having the money to continue, regardless of their decision.

Cindy Munford on April 22, 2013 at 1:51 PM

bho wanted this and he owns it! But bhopress will blame the r’s for this as they always do.

I have NO words to say how I detest bho/team/d’s for this! I hope this backfires as most other things have against bho?
L

letget on April 22, 2013 at 1:51 PM

Furloughs.

Flight delays.

Kabuki theater, all of it.

And our glorious leader still is flying all over the place “fund raising” and is still giving our enemies and potential enemies billions of our dollars.

But, blame sequestration for all of our ills.

The Tsarnaev brothers could not have committed any of their horrible deeds were it not for sequestration, you know.

And it is all Bush’s fault, too.

coldwarrior on April 22, 2013 at 1:51 PM

If you’re in the airport, if you are a net taxpayer, if your flight is delayed-

Whip out your cell phone, call your Senator, and tell him/her that clearly this country cannot afford another bazillion illegal, criminal, lawbreaking, welfare/foodstamp/EBT-sucking Obama voters.

M240H on April 22, 2013 at 1:53 PM

More reason to privatize the FAA.

Iblis on April 22, 2013 at 1:54 PM

“No pain, no gain” — Sir Gofsalot

Schadenfreude on April 22, 2013 at 1:57 PM

Sir Golfsalot

Schadenfreude on April 22, 2013 at 1:57 PM

Someone needs to explain to me HOW a ‘furlough’ actually helps?

Why would you keep people hanging around on a payroll when you do not have any work for them? IF they need to cut 10% of the staff, then they should cut 10% of the staff.

As for the planning of this, we are looking at even MORE GOVERNMENT INCOMPETANCE! WHY would they let planes go into the air IF they cannot land them SAFELY? The people managing this should be FIRED for GROSS INCOMPETANCE!

Freddy on April 22, 2013 at 2:01 PM

I can’t understand why airline traffic would be down, I mean who doesn’t want the chance to be groped by some lowbrow and then herded onto a plane to be treated like shiite while you’re crammed into a seat that would barely fit a toddler.

As for the cuts, why is it they all seem to be targeted at either highly visible or jobs or the “hero” positions such as law enforcement. Oh that’s right, because furloughing the girl who dusts the bannisters in the IRS building just doesn’t have the same “You’re all going to die because of the sequester!” cachet to use against us.

Bishop on April 22, 2013 at 2:05 PM

Flew from round trip San Francisco to Phoenix. Early 30 minutes each way. The security line out of Phoenix was pretty long but so what? I think we need more cuts if it means getting to my destination early.

Alibali on April 22, 2013 at 2:05 PM

I’ve got flights to Portland tomorrow, return Thursday. Next week to Hong Kong,and back, with Australia later in May.

All require connections and will next month let you know how it goes.. All require time at LAX or SFO

theblacksheepwasright on April 22, 2013 at 2:09 PM

Anecdotal and worth savoring: My brother — hyper-Dem, Obama lover, former member of the NH State House, and currently holding down a Federal gummint D-AG job he’s had for eight months (i.e., since just before his boy-king was re-elected) and that pays $140,000 per year — is quaking in his boots. He complained to me that he might fall victim of the sequester.

My response to him was to take it up with The POTUS Pantload as that was his idea in 2011. Alternative: save some of that $11,000 monthly salary to cushion the blow when he does get laid off.

We musta had different mothers.

The War Planner on April 22, 2013 at 2:12 PM

In possibly related news, online Poker websites are noticing a sudden dropoff in traffic.

slickwillie2001 on April 22, 2013 at 2:13 PM

Happy Nomad on April 22, 2013 at 1:47 PM

And bho/mAo will be at a West, TX memorial also. I would think the citizens are not all that thrilled having them there to get their face on the tube?

http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/obama-attend-memorial-west-texas_718195.html
L

letget on April 22, 2013 at 2:14 PM

Questions for Ed or whoever knows:

1) Who decides what gets cut, & how much it gets cut?

2) Why don’t they cut Obama’s vacations, his $300,000 per year calligraphy staff, or his $100,000 per year dog babysitter instead of some of these FAA people?

itsnotaboutme on April 22, 2013 at 2:23 PM

letget on April 22, 2013 at 2:14 PM

I guess he got shamed into going (like viewing the storm damage in Louisiana last summer). As of this morning the reporting was the rat-eared coward and mooch were planning on fundraising on Wed, doing the dedication thing on Thursday before jetting back in time to celebrate abortion at a Planned Parenthood dinner.

Nice of the President to make time in his schedule to visit the site of a horrific accident where at least 14 Americans were killed and hundreds were injured. The folks of West, Texas, must truly feel blessed to have a royal visit. /

Happy Nomad on April 22, 2013 at 2:24 PM

Oh that’s right, because furloughing the girl who dusts the bannisters in the IRS building just doesn’t have the same “You’re all going to die because of the sequester!” cachet to use against us.

Bishop on April 22, 2013 at 2:05 PM

IRS is furloughing but not until summer. When the tax season is over and they can sneak it in. Nobody is going to be upset when a bunch of IRS agents don’t get paid.

Happy Nomad on April 22, 2013 at 2:29 PM

Nice of the President to make time in his schedule to visit the site of a horrific accident where at least 14 Americans were killed and hundreds were injured. The folks of West, Texas, must truly feel blessed to have a royal visit. /

Happy Nomad on April 22, 2013 at 2:24 PM

I suspect most of them would prefer he f*ck off and stay out of their way.

Midas on April 22, 2013 at 2:31 PM

Happy Nomad on April 22, 2013 at 2:24 PM

“I’d just like to give a shout out to the good people of…uh…where we at again? Anyhoo, when I heard my travel people didn’t have me scheduled to come here I exploded, so I lit a fire under their aszes and BOOM! it got taken care of quick!”

Bishop on April 22, 2013 at 2:43 PM

Layoff the worker drones at the airport, but let the vast members of DHS bureaucracy keep their jobs as desk chair warmers. /s

Dasher on April 22, 2013 at 2:43 PM

The control towers are empty! Air Force One CANNOT fly because of the danger!

Now that’s a headline I’d really like to see.

GarandFan on April 22, 2013 at 2:46 PM

Perfect time to distract from the Saudi connection to the Marathon bombing.

n0doz on April 22, 2013 at 2:47 PM

Layoff the worker drones at the airport, but let the vast members of DHS bureaucracy keep their jobs as desk chair warmers. /s

Dasher on April 22, 2013 at 2:43 PM

You won’t see the sequester touch the EPA either, because the cheer that would go up across the country would be too embarrassing to the REB.

slickwillie2001 on April 22, 2013 at 2:50 PM

Bull. The sequester was a decrease in the amount of increase for budgets. Any furloughs are BS. This admin is making this stuff up.

TerryW on April 22, 2013 at 3:08 PM

bho wanted this and he owns it! But bhopress will blame the r’s for this as they always do.

I have NO words to say how I detest bho/team/d’s for this! I hope this backfires as most other things have against bho?
L

letget on April 22, 2013 at 1:51 PM

I got a few choice words, but I like commenting here, so I’ll shaddup. Good God Almighty, I hate this president!

HiJack on April 22, 2013 at 3:12 PM

Anecdotal and worth savoring: My brother — hyper-Dem, Obama lover, former member of the NH State House, and currently holding down a Federal gummint D-AG job he’s had for eight months (i.e., since just before his boy-king was re-elected) and that pays $140,000 per year — is quaking in his boots. He complained to me that he might fall victim of the sequester.

My response to him was to take it up with The POTUS Pantload as that was his idea in 2011. Alternative: save some of that $11,000 monthly salary to cushion the blow when he does get laid off.

We musta had different mothers.

The War Planner on April 22, 2013 at 2:12 PM

Excuse me while I get a cup of coffee to go with that DEE-LICIOUS helping of schadenfreude!

Maddie on April 22, 2013 at 3:15 PM

I got a few choice words, but I like commenting here, so I’ll shaddup. Good God Almighty, I hate this president petty man-child!

HiJack on April 22, 2013 at 3:12 PM

FIFY.

Maddie on April 22, 2013 at 3:17 PM

In somewhat related news, the Obama 2014 budget has completely eliminated the FFDO (Federal Flight Deck Officer, aka armed pilots) program. It is a very good and relatively cheap source of protection for flights. They tried to gut it by cutting the budget in half last year, but congress interceded. This year, they’ve cut it completely. Contact your congressmen.

pannw on April 22, 2013 at 3:35 PM

Oh that’s right, because furloughing the girl who dusts the bannisters in the IRS building just doesn’t have the same “You’re all going to die because of the sequester!” cachet to use against us.

Bishop on April 22, 2013 at 2:05 PM

Bing. Criminally corrupt government strikes again.

Jaibones on April 22, 2013 at 3:36 PM

I am sure that Sir Golfsalt’s plane will be delayed between outings with Tiger Woods….

mouell on April 22, 2013 at 3:41 PM

Sequester = Furloughs = Fewer Union Dues
sentinelrules on April 22, 2013 at 1:31 PM

Hey, there’s a nice definition of FUD.

Marcola on April 22, 2013 at 3:53 PM

Just got this from the RNC via email:

Dear Friend,

He’s doing it again. As if playing politics with White House tours wasn’t enough, the Obama Administration is now doing the same thing with airline travel.

The Federal Aviation Administration is now planning to furlough 47,000 workers throughout the rest of the fiscal year. According to Nicholas Calio, president of Airlines for America, this plan “is illegal, irresponsible and damaging. Most of all, it’s totally unnecessary.”

The absence of these workers could delay flights in major airports 3 1/2 hours, and will create massive problems for travelers and shippers this summer.

There are a number of ways the FAA can reduce costs and meet government cutbacks without creating problems for travelers, but once again this Administration, it’s all politics, all the time.

Obama is looking for ways to point the finger at Republicans over the sequester, and pressuring the FAA into cuts that have the greatest impact on the traveling public is the latest attempt to do so.

Contribute $25, $50, $100, or whatever you can today to send a strong message that we will not stand idly by and watch this President unnecessarily wreak havoc on air travelers.

This is why we lose. There are no delays.

BobMbx on April 22, 2013 at 3:59 PM

Are air traffic controllers the only FAA employees? Must be, because they’re the only ones being furloughed.

Not so. Most FAA employees are being furloughed. The only exception I’m aware of are some employees funded through the Airport Improvement Program, which has its own funding mechanism not affected by the sequester. AIP is for things like oversight of airport safety and infrastructure.

Chriscom on April 22, 2013 at 4:44 PM

As a former FAA controller at a very busy airport, I can guarantee that NATCA will coach their members to over compensate, run extra space and make it appear much worse than things really are.

Last time we were confronted with a possible furlough (late 80s), most of us volunteered to work a few days without pay and the FAA would not allow it. They want to inflict the most pain as possible.

JetBlast on April 22, 2013 at 5:11 PM

This is why we lose. There are no delays.

BobMbx on April 22, 2013 at 3:59 PM

The callousness of it is pretty disgusting.

Axe on April 22, 2013 at 5:14 PM

Turd games.

Pork-Chop on April 22, 2013 at 5:39 PM

JFK Real-Time Status

Airport Real-Time Status
JFK (Jamaica, NY)
John F. Kennedy International
Delays By Destination:
Due to RWY-TAXI / MAINTENANCE, departure traffic destined to JFK is currently experiencing delays averaging 2 hours and 43 minutes.

I think if I read it slower (or maybe faster) I’ll see the word sequester in there somewhere.

BobMbx on April 22, 2013 at 5:43 PM

Sir Golfsalot

Schadenfreude on April 22, 2013 at 1:57 PM

Sir Goofsupalot

fify

parke on April 23, 2013 at 12:04 AM

‘Splain to me Lucy why the FAA has doubled its budget, but is handling 41 percent fewer flights? Hmmm? Nah the Whitehouse wouldn’t do anything to make the public suffer on something this foolish, it would just resemble a two year old’s temper fit.

georgeofthedesert on April 23, 2013 at 12:49 PM