Weather appeared to be the largest contributing factor to airport delays on Wednesday as the federal budget sequester resulted in continued staff reductions in air traffic control towers nationwide.
In a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon, the Federal Aviation Administration said roughly 1,500 of its 15,000 air traffic controllers would be furloughed on any given day.
Back in February, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta told Congress that unlike a government shutdown, under the sequester, almost all FAA employees would be affected, “even what we would traditionally call essential personnel,” he said.
Sequestration is the technical term given to massive and mandatory federal spending reductions that kicked in when President Obama and Congress missed deadlines for hammering out a federal budget deal.
As a result, the FAA has implemented traffic management programs at major airports.
“[Tuesday] more than 1,025 delays in the system were attributable to staffing reductions due to the furlough,” the FAA said. “There were more than 975 additional delays as a result of weather and other factors. The FAA will continue to work with airlines throughout the day to try and minimize delays for travelers.”
Delays at LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports in Queens were largely weather-related, according to information posted on fly.faa.gov just before 5 p.m. on Wednesday.
Kennedy was reporting delays averaging just over two hours due to low visibility ceilings and wind.
LaGuardia, with average delays of 49 minutes, also was reporting low ceilings and wind just before 5 p.m.
Gate delays at Kennedy and LaGuardia for the same time period were reported as up to 30 and 45 minutes, respectively, and were said to be increasing.
The FAA is asking all travelers to check with their airlines for up-to-date information.