Failed Budget Deal May Mean Slower Air Travel

Automatic cuts that take effect next week mean more flights will probably be cancelled, and security lines will be far longer.

We’ve explained how the fallout of the fiscal cliff drama is going to hit a lot of areas of the economy. The New York Times looks at one in particular: airports.

Indiscriminate budget cuts will likely result in furloughs and hiring freezes, which could mean slower security lines, fewer air traffic controllers, and ultimately more delayed and cancelled flights.

Ray LaHood, the Department of Transportation secretary, has said the Federal Aviation Administration would have to furlough its 47,000 employees for one day out of every biweekly pay period. The result: a 10 percent drop in on-duty FAA workers. Which means they’ll have to treat a perfect-weather day like one with a major storm, slowing down outgoing flights to make sure they can adequately watch them all and keep people safe.

Janet Napolitano, the Department of Homeland Security’s secretary, says cuts to TSA employees’ hours could slow security lines by up to an hour, and that for international flyers should expect four- to five-hour waits.

Unlike the government shutdown of 1994, this isn’t temporary. It’s the new normal until Congress does something about it. Which really means: until we do something about Congress.

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