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Airline flight delays ease up

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Published:   |   Updated: April 24, 2013 at 12:02 AM
TAMPA -

Tampa International Airport was ranked No. 4 in the nation for delayed and canceled flights Monday with 43 percent of flights delayed, but it saw declining disruptions from air traffic controller furloughs and bad weather Tuesday.

“Tuesday has been much more smooth than Monday,” Tampa International spokeswoman Janet Zink said. ”We’ve had fewer than a dozen delays of both departures and arrivals at any time. A couple were more than an hour but it was not as bad as yesterday.”

On Sunday, the Federal Aviation Administration began to implement its furlough policy to trim its budget as required by the congressional sequestration law, but effects were not felt until Monday, typically a heavy travel day.

The Federal Aviation Administration attributed more than 1,200 delays Monday to staff reductions resulting from the furlough, compared with more than 1,400 additional delays resulting from weather and other factors.

The FAA cautioned Tuesday that travelers can expect to see a wide range of delays that could change throughout the day depending on staffing and weather-related issues.

Officials could not identify why the Tampa, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Miami airports ranked among the top 10 in a FlightStats.com report on delays, beyond the fact those airport’s busiest routes serve Northeast U.S. destinations hit by both weather and controller staffing issues.

Problems involving flights at Tampa International on Tuesday ranged from weather and wind problems in New York to staffing problems at airports in Washington and Dallas-Fort Worth, the FAA reported.

“Controllers will space planes farther apart so they can manage traffic with current staff, which will lead to delays at airports including Dallas-Fort Worth, Las Vegas and Los Angeles,” FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said.

The FAA pursued a strategy of furloughs to trim $637 million from its $16 billion budget to comply with sequestration reductions resulting from a failure of Republicans and Democrats in Congress to agree on deficit trims.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that members of both parties joined to question the Obama administration over the rationale for FAA’s air traffic controller cuts, which account for $200 million in savings through September.

The White House blamed Republicans for the budget trims and resultant FAA furloughs, arguing that 70 percent of the FAA’s expenses are for personnel, requiring trims in staffing from all operations.


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