Flight delays continue today as politicians argue over automatic federal spending cuts in Washington. There were 4,749 delays and 273 cancellations by Tuesday afternoon.
Los Angeles held planes at gates or while taxiing for up to 45 minutes as the problems with furloughed air-traffic controllers continued, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Arrivals into Dallas-Ft Worth were delayed a half-hour and climbing because of furloughs, according to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association And planes in the Washington area were being held on the ground at Dulles and had ground delays at Ronald Reagan National airport because of staffing, according to the controllers’ union.
Planes headed to National were being delayed an average of an hour and 13 minutes because of staffing, according to the FAA.
At the same time, criticism of the furloughs intensified from congressional Republicans, while Obama administration officials said Congress must fix the problem through negotiations over spending.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., led the attack by accusing the administration of trying to score political points on the backs of weary travelers stuck on tarmacs. He said the FAA should have planned better for spending cuts and avoided furloughs.
“That means prioritizing funding to ensure that flights are not needlessly delayed or canceled,” McConnell said. “There is no good reason for these delays.”
The FAA had to cut $637 million because of a spending impasse between Congress and the administration.
Michael Huerta, the head of the FAA, said the agency has few options. Furloughs reduce spending $200 million, leaving another $437 million to cut from contracts such as closing towers at 149 small airports and reducing training and information technology, he said.
“We’ve used all the flexibility we have,” Huerta said. “Congress needs to come together and resolve the whole sequester issue.”
The lingering dispute left delays and cancellations continuing to mount.