According to a recent Congressional report, the impact of sequestration on our nation’s aviation system could be severe. Previous reports have estimated that up to 5,000 flights per day could be cancelled and 12% of air traffic controllers laid off as a result of the cuts.
The most recent Congressional report warns across the board budget cuts which are set to take effect on March 1 (barring intervention by Congress and the White House), would limit the FAA’s ability to move forward with NextGen modernization. The FAA’s capital program, which funds maintenance and improvements to the air traffic control system and facilities, has already experienced significant cuts of more than $205 million over the last three years. Transition to NextGen modernization will take longer and its benefits will not be realized for years if cuts due to sequestration force the FAA to use limited resources as a band-aid to maintain its existing air traffic control infrastructure.
In addition, sequestration’s cut to other federal agencies will have repercussions on air operations. Cuts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are projected to delay future weather satellite data, diminishing the accuracy of weather forecasts and resulting in airline delays.
Slowdowns caused by ground delays can lead to significant fines on airlines, which will result in higher passenger fares.
Military cuts are projected to have a significant impact on readiness. A sequestration scenario that extends through the end of the year will trigger cuts of more than 20 percent across the Joint Force. According to the Army Chief of Staff, once implemented, “it will take longer and longer to catch up. So this will not be just a FY 13 readiness issue, it will be a readiness issue that goes into FY14 and FY15.” Cuts of this magnitude and service reductions could impact military charter flying done by ALPA members.
Read the full report here.