In its latest attempt to pressure Republicans by describing for the public the horrors of the sequester, the Obama administration today warned that fliers could experience delays of 90 minutes during peak travel periods as cuts to the Federal Aviation Administration go into effect.
Speaking at the White House, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the “vast majority” of FAA employees would be furloughed once per pay period and that in order the guarantee safety, flights will be scaled back. Delays to major hubs like New York and Chicago could reach 90 minutes or more, LaHood suggested, while air traffic control towers at more than 100 smaller airports will be closed altogether.
LaHood said if the sequester goes into effect as scheduled March 1, the effects should begin to be felt by the beginning of April.
“It’s going to be very painful for the flying public,” said LaHood. “This is going to have an enormous impact.”
LaHood heatedly denied that the administration was focusing on the worst possible consequences of the cuts in order to put the heat on the GOP.
“The idea we are doing this just to create some kind of horrific consequence is nonsense,” LaHood said.
But LaHood noted that the public will begin calling members of Congress and that he was trying to “wake up” Republicans.
“Why does this have to happen? Nobody likes a delay,” he said, adding, “I think Republicans need to step up here.”