Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Friday that if a series of drastic across-the-board spending cuts take place next week as scheduled that travelers will likely endure 90-minute waits flying to major U.S. cities like New York and Chicago because of fewer controllers on staff.
"Delays in these major airports will ripple across the country," he told reporters at the White House. "Cuts to budgets mean preventative maintenance and quick repair of runway equipment might not be possible, which could lead to more delays. And once airlines see the potential impact of these furloughs, we expect that they will change their schedules and cancel flights."
LaHood said he's department will need to cut nearly $1 billion with more than $600 million from the Federal Aviation Administration, the agency that controls and manages the nation's skies. The majority of FAA's nearly 47,000 employees will be furloughed for one day per pay period until the end of the fiscal year, in some cases it could be as many as two days.
The cuts will be implemented between March 1 and April 1 with delays likely beginning around April 1.
"These are harmful cuts with real-world consequences that'll cause jobs and hurt our economy," he said.